• Title Company of Captain Reinier Reael, known as the 'Meagre Company'

    Year 1637

    Artist Frans Hals ( Pieter Codde )

    Technique Oil on canvas

    Dimensions 209 x 429 cm

    Just to see that painting would make the journey to Amsterdam worthwhile.' wrote Vincent van Gogh in 1885, after having seen this work in the Rijksmuseum. He particularly liked the 'orange banner in the left corner,' he had 'seldom seen a more divinely beautiful figure'. The painting that caused such a sensation was the group portrait of the crossbowmen's militia under Captain Reinier Reael, painted by Frans Hals and Pieter Codde in 1637. The painting has been known for centuries as the 'Meagre Company', because the figures portrayed all appear remarkably thin.

    In 1633 Frans Hals was commissioned to paint the portraits of Captain Reynier Reael and Lieutenant Cornelis Michielsz. Blaeuw with their militia unit. He had to paint the picture in Amsterdam, where the militiamen lived. Hals himself lived in Haarlem; which meant that he had to travel back and forth regularly.
    The Amsterdam civic guard had asked Frans Hals because of his reputation for lively civic guard portraits, and because he avoided staid, formally posed group portraits. But the militiamen could not have taken into account that Hals might start to find commuter travel tedious.

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  • The Spendthrift

    Title The Spendthrift', Act III, Scene V, from the play of the same name by Thomas Asselijn

    Year 1741

    Artist Cornelis Troost

    Technique Oil on panel

    Dimensions 68,5 x 86 cm

    This tableau shows a scene from the farce 'The Spendthrift or the Wasteful Woman' written by Thomas Asselijn in 1693. Joanna, the woman in the white dress spends money like water, buying the most extravagant items. Her father and husband have disguised themselves as Polish Jewish traders. They plan to catch Joanna trying to sell her expensive clothes for a pittance. She intends to use the money to by new valuables. The eighteenth-century painter Cornelis Troost has turned this into a colourful scene.

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  • This is not a picture of a man smoking a pipe, but a picture of a painting of a man smoking a pipe. In front of the painting-within-a-painting hangs a green curtain on a copper rail. It is so realistic you might even mistake it for a real curtain - in the seventeenth century it was not uncommon to protect paintings from strong light. Gerard Dou tried to trick the viewer into actually attempting to draw the curtain. Meanwhile the artist looks on: the man with the pipe in the window is Gerard Dou himself.

    Title Self Portrait

    Year c. 1650

    Artist Gerard Dou

    Technique Oil on panel

    Dimensions 48 x 37 cm

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  • A young woman taking a bath, assisted by two servants. This is Bathsheba, a legendary beauty. Cornelis van Haarlem painted her in 1594. The story of the fair Bathsheba is told in the biblical Book of Samuel. One evening she was bathing in the garden. King David saw her from the roof of his palace and fell in love with her. All that is visible of the palace here is the contour behind the garden wall. The king is nowhere to be seen. The focus is on the three women in the foreground. The artist used Bathsheba's bath as a theme in which to show various facets of the female nude, monumental and at the same time as natural as possible.

    Year 1594

    Artist Cornelis Cornelisz. van Haarlem

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  • Year 1623

    Artist Gerard van Honthorst

    A man is leaning out of a window, laughing. In one hand he has a violin and a bow; in the other a glass of wine. He is pushing the curtain - a Persian carpet - to the side. The man is wearing a fantasy costume: an elegant beret and a colourfully striped jacket. This is probably not a portrait, just a picture of cheerful character. The musician appears to be actually looming out of the canvas. He is inviting the viewer to come into the party.

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