October 6, 2010


Portrait-groups of the Civic Guards have only been painted in Holland and Zeeland. The genre arose in Amsterdam, during the city's first period of posterity. The basis for this form of art had, however, been prepared in Haarlem by Geertgen tot Sint Jans whose altar wing with the portraits of the Knights of St John (Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna) is considered to be the oldest Dutch group-portrait. A generation later Jan van Scorel, in his panels of Utrecht and Haarlem Crusaders (Frans Hals Museum), had further elaborated the theme. Therefore, the idea of painting men in a group existed already. What was new, however, was that they did not have themselves painted for inclusion in a religious picture but for purely municipal or civic reasons. In fact it was in Amsterdam that the group-portrait became secularized.