Represent

It seems everything is about representation these days.
Prak, Maarten. “Citizens, Soldiers and Civic Militias in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe.” Past & Present 228, no. 1 (August 1, 2015): 93–123.
(For those in the publishing biz who need it, the doi is 10.1093/pastj/gtv030)
First paragraph: One of the world’s best-known works of art of the early modern period has an uncomfortable relationship with current historiography. The subject matter of Rembrandt’s Nightwatch, created between 1640 and 1642, is amateur soldiers — but had these not become obsolete as a result of the Military Revolution? As it is, the figures in the Nightwatch are going through military procedures, closely following Jacob de Gheyn’s soldiers’ manual of 1607, even though it is quite clear that they are citizens, not soldiers. In the painting we see officers of an Amsterdam civic militia company on their rounds, depicted against the dark shape of a town gate.1 In seventeenth-century Amsterdam civic militias patrolled the city at night; one of their duties was to shut the gates, and to take the keys to the home of the presiding burgomaster. In the centre of the picture is the company’s commanding officer, Frans Banning Cocq, who, as the son of a German immigrant, was understandably proud of the status that he had achieved in his home town. He and his fellow-officers paid Rembrandt one hundred guilders each to have their portraits included. The painting was to be displayed in the doelen, or militia hall, where it could be viewed by members of their own and other militia companies, as well as by ordinary passers-by.2 A hundred guilders, the equivalent of four months of a labourer’s wages, for a portrait that would not become private property, was a substantial amount of money, suggesting how much importance was attached to the public presentation of one’s person in a militia context. ….
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2 responses to “Represent”

  1. Edwin Groot says :

    May I ask if this is an art-historical article or a military history article? Just wondering if this adds something to the Paul Knevel books on the Schutterij.

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