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A Man Who Has Nothing In Particular To Recommend Him Discusses All Sorts of Subjects at Random as Though He Knew Everything

The Richness Of Meagre Company

Click for a really big shue.

Franz Hals painted this one. Well, he started painting it. Had a “helper” who painted a lot of it, with enough juice to get mentioned, too; Pieter Codde. Maybe Hals was too tired from naming it to finish it. It’s original name is: Officers of the Company of the Amsterdam Crossbow Civic Guard Under Captain Reynier Reael and Lieutenant Cornelis Michielsz. An art critic decided that the men pictured were so slender and his ink was so precious that he’d call them the Meagre Company instead, and the nickname has stuck.

It’s hanging around the Rijksmuseum in the Netherlands. They know a little something about painting in those parts.

Hals was hired because he had a rep for interesting poses for large groups, but he got tired of commuting to Amsterdam from Haarlem, and when the Civic Guard told him to paint faster or he wouldn’t get paid, Hals told them that if the postman doesn’t come, it’s from me. The skinny soldiers hired Codde to finish it for them. People familiar with the two artists can easily tell who did what from looking at the painting. Hals was less fussy and more powerful. I always find that interesting.

I love the black in it. Only Spaniards and Hopper could use black all over the place better.

10 Responses

  1. Yannow, I see 5 swords and a bunch of halberds and pikes, but not one crossbow (or happybow, either). So I'm wondering about it.

    I take it the two guys not in black are the top dogs in this outfit. And all these guys look well-fed to me, but very fit to fight.

    But, what do I know, not being a certified art critic.

  2. Interesting you draw the link to Hopper here.

    I always thought that hoppers work in general, and Nighthawks specifcially had a lot in common with the dutch realists; particularly Maes and Honthorst.

    Of course, my two favorite schools were the dutch realists, and the 20th century realists.

  3. Sam,

    This is from the pike and shot period of warfare. If you look close you will some muskets.

  4. I guess a I should elaborate a little.

    The pike and shot era basically just carried over earlier tactics relating to crossbows and pikes and refined them.

    So I am guessing that they kept the name after they upgraded the gear.

  5. Hi everybody- Thanks for reading and commenting.

    Hi Chris- Hopper has a whole bunch of canvases that are half black. There's one that I can't remember the proper name of, but everyone calls Ex-Lax because it's a pharmacy at night with an Ex-Lax sign in the window, and the whole thing is darker than a banker's heart.

  6. Hopper?
    The obvious connection is with John Singer Sargent – look at the satin, lace, and other textures, all the more convincing for being loosely rendered.

  7. Hi Ben- You're entirely correct, and Sargent had all sorts of black canvases, too. I would have thrown him in there, too, but I've been yammering about him too much lately and tossed Hopper on the pile instead.

    Dude liked black.

  8. Hals made his own paint as all artists or their assistants did in his era, and the earth colors were cheap and the jewel/brilliant colors were not. Consider Vermeer grinding up lapis lazuli for his blues if you saw, "Girl With A Pearl Earring." When fortunes waned painters went for limited, earth palettes (umbers, siennas, etc.). Also Hals was painting a lot of Protestants who wore black. Hals seems to have used chromatic blacks which are mixtures of several pigments rather than a single black pigment such as that made from burned bones back then. The German Expressionists used black wonderfully in my opinion. The problem is that black, the absence of light, can make a dead, flat place in a painting if it not of the chromatic sort.

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