Adam Louisz. de Colonia: Officers of the civic guard of Rotterdam (1604)

(Museum Rotterdam, Rotterdam, The Netherlands)

A painting attributed to the Dutch artist Adam Louisz. de Colonia (1572-1651). Of the 17 civic guard portraits from Rotterdam mentioned in the 17th century, this poorly maintained painting is the only one surviving, the others are missing and/ or destroyed - an example how some city councils in the Netherlands badly maintained their cultural heritage. Like any other Dutch town, Rotterdam also had a civic guard. In the 14th century this civic guard was divided into two guilds: the Saint Sebastian (longbow) and the Saint George Guild (crossbow), for a total of 200 men. In 1557 both guilds stopped using the longbow and crossbow and started training with muskets. Later the Saint Sebastian guild was added to the saint George guild to form 1 big civic guard. This new civic guard unit was expanded in later times until it had 6 company's (Dutch = 'vendel') of 140 men, with and addition of 60 mercenaries ('Dutch = 'waardgelders'). Each company was commanded by a captain and the entire unit was led by a colonel. The unit had its own target practice grounds (in Dutch these buildings are called 'Doelen', literally 'targets') which was located at the Haagscheveer, near the 'gate of Delft' (Delftsche Poort). The man at the left is the innkeeper of the Doelen, the rest of the men are officers of the civic guard of Rotterdam. The spear 
(called a 'partizaan' in Dutch) these men are carrying identifies them as the captains of the civic guard. Painting from 1604.

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