Just a quick couple of additions to the genre after a visit to the Prinsenhof in Delft. In addition to the legendary bullet holes in the wall (embedded after they had passed through the body of William the Silent (alas!) in 1584, and which I’d wanted to see ever since A-level history 50 years ago), it contains many fascinating paintings, maps and artefacts illustrating the gradual emergence of the Dutch Republic.
In this allegory of the wars (artist unknown, but painted between 1600 and 1650), I regret to say that the doughty Dutch farmer, used to both drought and flood, is confronting a further peril, the aggressive (and most likely unpaid) soldier, who was expected to live off the land over which he was marching. The farmer is accompanied in defence of his property by his faithful dog, while the armed plunderer, surrounded by his loot, has at his side a fat, and extremely malign-looking cat.
The other cat appears in a Dutch interior by Cornelis de Man (1621–1706), painted about 1666. The only other figure in the picture is a woman sweeping in the corridor, and the cat appears to be playing with an egg – an emblem of carelessness or waste?
And – nothing to do with Delft – I thought I’d throw in a couple of oddities from a recent auction catalogue (perk of the job…).
The search continues …