Oil on canvas. Dutch school of the 17th century.
In a richly decorated interior, Dutch burghers are gathered. With his back to us, the man in the foreground is carrying a sword which tells us about the military status of this company. These militiamen of the young republic of the United Provinces have probably gathered for a special event. Could the reason be the content of the document in the hands of the man sitting in the center of the composition, at the foot of which a dog is sitting? Could it be the umpteenth declaration of war by the Spanish crown that will provoke their next mobilization? Or could it be a new bylaw brought by the man standing on the doorstep... In any case, these gentlemen take the opportunity to relax with wine and hot drinks. We enter this scene through the glances of the two pipe smokers on either side of the room. In doing so, they break the isolation and invite us into the intimacy of their meeting. A caged parrot imported from an East India Company trading post towers above the group. Could these individuals be merchants? The wall richly decorated with Cordovan leather panels, the sculptures and the paintings hung testify to the financial ease of these individuals. A crackling fireplace from which emanates a soft light illuminates this theater of civic life where calm and serenity prevail over debauchery.
The guardhouses are a variation on the genre painting that emerged in the 17th century, when the United Provinces were regularly confronted with war. If at first the artists, such as Dirck Hals (1591 - 1656), represented essentially scenes of debauchery, pillaging and sometimes violence, the guardhouses gained in elegance over time. Anthonie Palamedesz, whose style is very close to our painting, is one of the first to spare sensibilities by ceasing to represent women as courtesans. The male figures are proper, like the man in yellow who appears in several of her works and whose back is turned to the fireplace in our painting. This Delft painter offers a more serene atmosphere to his compositions whose richness of decoration is often manifested by the Cordovan leather panels, such as those seen hanging on the walls of our painting. Anthonie Palamedesz's followers, like her apprentice Ludolf de Jongh, would use this motif in their own work. Thus our artist has integrated a century of tradition in the genre, delivering a work of unparalleled theatricality where the interior decor serves as a stage and the actors are illuminated by subtle light effects. This composition is an embodiment of the pride of the young Dutch nation which, having become a master of commerce, also intended to be master of its political destiny.
We have chosen to present this guardhouse in an elegant 17th century Dutch walnut frame.
Dimensions : 47 x 55,5 cm the view - 65 x 74 cm with the frame
Anthonie Palamedesz (Delft 1601 - Amsterdam 27 Nov. 1673) was a Dutch painter, son of a goldsmith in the service of James I of England. It is assumed that he was a student of Michiel van Mierevelt and Hendrick Pot. He was made a member of the Guild of Saint Luke in 1621 and was its president in 1653 and 1673. A painter of genre and portraiture, he is best known for his paintings of merry companies, gallant concerts and guardhouses. From the 1630s, his style was similar to that of the Amsterdam painters Dirck Hals and Pieter Codde. Having had many followers, he had as apprentices his son Palamedes Palamedesz II and the Rotterdamer Ludolf de Jongh.
- BROWN Christopher, Dutch genre painting in the 17th century: images of a bygone world, trans. Solange Schnall, Paris, De Busy Vilo, 1984
- Masters of Seventeenth-Century Dutch Genre Painting, SUTTON Peter C (cat. exp., Philadelphia Museum of Art, March 18 to May 13, 1984, Gemäldegalerie, Staatliche Museen Preussischer Kulturbesitz, Berlin (West), June 8 to August 12, 1984, Royal Academy of Arts, London, September 7 to November 18, 1984.
- ROSEN Jochai, Soliders at leisure: The Guardroom Scene in Dutch Genre Painting of the Golden Age, Amsterdam, Amsterdam University Press, 2010.
- VLIEGHE, Hans, Flemish Art and Architecture, 1585-1700, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1998.