Anonymous: Group portrait of a squad of the Caliver Guild with two kings of marksmen (1534)


(Amsterdam Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

A painting by an unknown 16th century Dutch artist. Again a portrait of a squad of the Amsterdam Caliver Guild - the guild can be identified by the blue/ red jacket with beret and the insignia on the left shoulder. The most interesting part of this portrait are two men in the center on the front row. The men are two 'kings of marksmen' (Dutch 'schutterskoning') who won the annual shooting competition, in Dutch called 'papegaaischieten' or 'parrotshooting'. The aim of this competition was shooting at a wooden representation of an bird, called a parrot, on a pole. The contestant who demounts the last pieces of the wooden bird was the new King of Marksmen. The two men are carrying a ceremonial silver scepter and a silver chain with a bird (the bird represents the parrot of the competition. Apparently this squad won the annual shooting competition two times in a row - perhaps the reason for this painting. The number of men on this painting is 18, 1 too many (a civic guard squad had 17 men). Perhaps the reason for this extra person was that 1 of the two kings won the competition of last year and left the guild shortly after that but was included on the painting to celebrate the occasion). As the kings had a higher rank in the guild, these men take the officers-position on the painting (front row). The captain of this squad is the man above the right king (one squad member is pointing toward him). Painting from 1534.

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