Albert Eckhout's reputation and career as a painter were made on a Dutch expedition to northeast Brazil from 1637 to 1644. A group of artists, including Eckhout and Frans Post, accompanied the newly appointed Dutch governor-general, Johan Maurits, count of Nassau-Siegen, to document the country's plants, animals, and people.
After they returned to Holland, Maurits, nicknamed "the Brazilian," commissioned Eckhout to produce a series of paintings showing the wonders of South America "as large as life." In 1679 Maurits gave eight of these paintings of Brazilian natives and animals in imaginary landscapes to Louis XIV. The Gobelins Tapestry Manufactory used them as cartoons for a series called "Les anciennes Indes" (The Ancient Indies), whose designs remained consistently popular through the 1700s.