Gerard ter Borch (II): Group portrait of the magistrate of Deventer (1667)


(Town Hall, Deventer, The Netherlands)

a painting by the Dutch artist Gerard ter Borch (II) (1617-1681). This painting shows the magistrate, the city council, of the Dutch town of Deventer. The magistrate consisted of 12 'schepenen' (today a 'Councilmember' or 'alderman') and 4 councils, supported by 4 city secretaries. Two 'schepenen' had the role of mayor for two months a year. The schepenen were the executive members of the magistrate, the 4 councils had a controlling role. In order to be eligible for the role of schepen you had to be a citizen of Deventer for at least 6 years and a member of the reformed church. Ter Borch shows all the 12 schepenen (the 2 men in the middle are the mayors) and the 4 city secretaries (seated around the table) in the the old council chamber ('raetkamer'). To the left and right of the mayors in the background are 2 boards with the executioner swords. The frame of the painting is an original and was made by the sculptor Derck Daniels (1632-1710) from Deventer. The elements on the frame represent the government which guarantees peace and liberty with quick justice and fair dealings. The horns of plenty on the frame represent the flowering commerce, arts and science which are promoted by the magistrate. The eye in the middle at the top of the frame is the 'all-seeing eye of justice'. Gerard ter Borch (II) originally was born in the town of Zwolle but moved to Deventer in 1654. In Deventer he was a member of the so-called 'de gezworen gemeente' (literally 'the sworn municipality'), a sort of parliament of 32-48 men made up of chosen members of the town of Deventer, its members were men from the reformed church who were a citizen of Deventer for at least 3 years. This 'gezworen gemeente' had a meeting with the city council about 5 times a year regarding topics like urban goods, changes in the city law and payments of annuities - these topics required an agreement of the 'gezworen gemeente'. Painting from 1667.

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