Allaert van Loeninga: The regents of the Tuchthuis in Middelburg (1643)

(Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

A typical Dutch 17th century group-portrait. the men on the painting are the regents (the board-of-directors) of the 'tuchthuis'in the Dutch town of Middelburg. A 'tuchthuis' was a house of correction, a building were men and women were sent to for punishment. The 'tuchthuis' consisted of 2 buildings: 
the 'spinhouse' for female criminals: they had to learn spinning and sewing
the 'rasphuis' for male criminals: the men had to shave wood with a rasp from the brazilwood tree (the woodpulp was used as a raw material in the paint industry)

the tuchthuis of Middelburg was founded by the city council of Middelburg around 1643 (these men were probably the first board-of-directors of the tuchthuis) at Kousteensedijk in Middelburg. The spinhouse and the rasphouse were intended as an institute for rehabilitation. By forcing the men and women to work the criminals were taught a sense of order and duty so that they could return like to everyday life. In practice however the men and women were heavily exploited as cheap labor for high profits.. The institute was abolished in the 19th century and a modern prison was built in its place. The names of these men of the painting have preserved. From left to right:
- Jacques van Neulingem (schepen of Middelburg)
- Sijmen van Trijst (kiesheer of Middelburg)
- Guillaume de Wolff (major)
- Cornelis Erckenbout
- Matthias Molanus

Painting from 1643.

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