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Willem Cornelisz. Duyster, Soldiers Fighting over Booty in a Barn, ca. 1623-1624. Oil on panel, 37.6 x 57 cm. National Gallery, London, Inv. NG1386. ©National Gallery, London
Painters at War: The Emergence of the Guardroom Scene in Seventeenth-Century Holland
Editorial Director: Laurence Bertrand Dorléac
Editorial Staff: Carole Gautier and Cécile Pichon-Bonin
Translator: David Ames Curtis
There was a time when war was so loved and considered so normal that history itself was thought to be made up especially of military battles, conquests, and heroism. That was the way it was in the seventeenth-century Netherlands, when the Dutch were victorious over the Spanish occupiers in 1648. Within a Reformation atmosphere, one witnessed the emergence of a new artistic vein that took for its subject soldiers at rest, playing, drinking, eating, smoking, and sleeping while waiting to be called up to fight on the battlefield. In the “vanguard,” young painters not only bore arms but also carried forth a novel conception of art while working on a new history. Léonard Pouy, who is currently preparing a dissertation on the emergence of the guardroom scene in seventeenth-century Dutch and Flemish painting, delivers to us here his initial conclusions.