The Company of Captain Reinier Reael (known as 'The Meagre Company')
Frans Hals / Pieter Godde
oil on canvas, 1637
Militia companies formed the armed civic guard in Dutch cities. They drew their members from the affluent burgher class. In Amsterdam each corps had its own headquarters. On the walls hung group portraits of militiamen. For centuries this portrait was known as the 'Meagre Company', because the figures appear so remarkably thin. The two men seated on the left are the commanders: Captain Reinier Reael and Lieutenant Cornelis Michielsz Blaeuw.
“Just to see that painting would make the journey to Amsterdam worthwhile.” wrote Vincent van Gogh in 1885, after having seen this work in the Rijksmuseum. He particularly liked the orange banner in the left corner, he had “seldom seen a more divinely beautiful figure.”