Allegorical Figure of America, from the Four Continents series

Crispijn I de Passe, Dutch, 1564 - 1637


about 1590

Engraving on laid paper

Sheet: 2 3/16 × 4 3/16 in. (5.6 × 10.6 cm)

Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth: Gift of the Estate of Harold Goddard Rugg, Class of 1906



Place Made: Netherlands, Europe



Object Name


Research Area


Not on view


Inscribed, in plate, upper left: AMERICA; monogram, lower right


Crispijn I de Passe is not known to have traveled outside of Europe; thus, his understanding of Africa, America, and Asia was likely based on other travelers’ accounts, as well as his own imagination. In his Four Continents, the fully nude allegorical women figuring Africa and America sit atop wild beasts. America wears a feathered headdress and carries a bow and arrow, perhaps a nod to the Indigenous populations colonial settlers encountered when they landed in the New World a century prior. Bare-chested Asia is accompanied by a hybrid creature, part camel, part dragon. Only Europe is entirely clothed. She wears royal dress, holds a scepter, and bears advanced weapons—a gun and shield—clearly distinguished as the most “civilized.” The artists in this exhibition actively address how this idea of “civilized” and “primitive other” continues to plague the West and its relationship to the rest of the world.

From the 2020 exhibition Reconstitution, curated by Jessica Hong, Associate Curator of Global Contemporary Art

Exhibition History

Reconstitution, Dorothy and Churchill P. Lathrop Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, January 2, 2020 - June 20, 2021.

Ivan Albright Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, March 29-May 15, 2005.

Unlayering Stereotypes: Selections from the Permanent Collection For Teaching Cultural Anthropology, Harrington Gallery Teaching Exhibition, Anthropology 7, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, June 24-August 20, 1995.


Collected by Harold Goddard Rugg (1883-1957, Class of 1906), Hanover, New Hampshire; given by his Estate to present collection, 1957.

Catalogue Raisonne

D. Franken, L'Oeuvre Grave des Van de Passe, Amsterdam, 1881, no. 1206; Hollstein no. 604.

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