Anthonie Palamedesz. was the Dutch specialist of guardroom scenes.
During the final stages of the Eighty Years War the Dutch troops were slowly besieging towns that were still in Spanish hands: Palamadesz. was a master at representing these long periods of inactivity for the soldiers and officers.
Anthonie’s brother, Palamedes Palamedesz. specialised in cavalry battle scenes.
Because Anthonie usually signed his paintings in full I have prefered to catalogue our unsigned painting as attributed to him.
About Anthonie Palamedesz.
Delft 1601 – 1673 Amsterdam
Genre and portrait painter. He often painted interior scenes, especially guardroom scenes.
Anthonie Palamedesz. regularly painted the staffage in landscapes and architectural scenes by other painters.
He was nicknamed “Stevers” after his father’s last name, Stevaert.
He was the older brother of the battle scene painter Palamedes Palamedesz. (1607 – 1638).
Arnold Houbraken (1660 – 1719) published in 1718 his famous “De groote schouburgh der Nederlantsche konstschilders en schilderessen”, a biography of all important Dutch painters. The major part of his text on Palamedes Palamedesz. and his brother Anthonie he apparently “borrowed” from an earlier book, “Beschryvinge der Stadt Delft” by Dirck Evertsz. van Bleyswijck. This future burgomaster of Delft was only 17 years old when he published in 1667 this description of his hometown and the greatest accomplishments of its citizens.
According to van Bleyswijck Palamedes Stevaert, the father of Anthonie and Palamedes Palamedesz., was a gem-cutter and sculptor from Delft who carved semi-precious stones (jasper, porphyry, agate, etc.) into vases and other decorative art. This father was of Flemish origin; he must have been one of those many Protestants who fled from Flanders and its Spanish Inquisition to Holland.
Van Bleyswijck further tells that our painters’ younger brother, Palamedes, was born while his father was at the service of King James VI of Scotland (1566 – 1625). Shortly after Palamedes’ birth he returned with his family to Delft. Van Bleyswijck mentions James as king of Scotland (which he actually became at the age of thirteen months in 1567), so it is possible that Palamedes was born in Scotland.
On the other hand we should mention that James VI, this time under the name of James I, became also king of England and Ireland in 1603; in 1607 Palamedes must therefore have been born in London instead of in Edinburgh.
Anthonie’s teacher is unknown, but it has been speculated that he may have studied in Delft with the court painter Michiel van Mierevelt and/or Hendrick Pot, who was in the city in 1620.
Palamedesz. joined the Delft Guild of St Luke in 1621 and was head man in 1653 and 1673.
He taught Ludolph de Jongh (1616-1679) and his younger brother Palamedes Palamedesz.
Jacob Fransz van der Merck, Jacob Jansz van Velsen and Abraham Evertsz. van Westervelt were influenced by him.
He had three children by his first marriage in 1630 to Anna Joosten van Hoorendijk (she died in1651) and a son by his second marriage in 1660 to Aagje Woedewart.
In 1673 Anthonie was residing in Amsterdam, probably with his eldest son, the painter Palamedes Palamedesz. II (1633–1705), when he died.
About the origin of the last name “Palamedesz”
In 17th century Holland the “z.” at the end of a last name stands for “zoon”, “son”. The exact pronunciation of our painters’ last name is therefore “Palamedeszoon”, meaning “the son of Palamedes”, which was the first name of Anthonie’s father.
According to the Pseudo-Apollodorus (1st or 2nd century AD) in his “Epitome” (the fourth book of the “Bibliotheca”) Palamedes was the name of the Greek hero who proved Ulysses’ madness, which he feigned so that he would not have to participate in the War of Troy, was fictitious by threatening to kill his only son Telemachus:
“ But he, not wishing to go to the war, feigned madness. However, Palamedes, son of Nauplius, proved his madness to be fictitious; and when Ulysses pretended to rave, Palamedes followed him, and snatching Telemachus from Penelope's bosom, drew his sword as if he would kill him. And in his fear for the child Ulysses confessed that his madness was pretended, and he went to the war.” (Epitome III, 7)
Ulysses never forgave Palamedes and at the end of the Trojan War he falsely accused him of treason and had him stoned to death.
In 1625 the famous Dutch author Joost van den Vondel wrote a tragedy based on this story: “Palamedes oft Vermoorde onnoselheyd” (Palamedes or the murdered stupidity).
About guardroom scenes
Our painting represents the interior of a guardroom.
Until 1648 the Eighty Years’ War was fought, which one may call the Dutch war of independance from Spain.
It ended with the final recognition, by catholic Spain, of the independent, largely protestant Republic of the Seven United Provinces. Flanders remained Spanish and catholic.
After the Twelve Years’ Truce (1609 – 1621) the Eighty Years’ War had evolved towards a slow war of sieges. In between and during these sieges there were long periods of inactivity, which the contemporary painters portrayed with a lot of sense for psychology.
From 1625 onwards the Dutch were on the winning hand, besieging and finally taking town after town. The Dutch were lucky: while Spain was regularly in great need of money, with soldiers and mercenaries that could not be paid, they had captured under Admiral Piet Hein the famous Spanish silver fleet in Cuba in 1628. All this money could now be used for the war. An offensive and defensive treaty sealed with France in 1635 proved to be very successful and finally forced Spain to accept peace with an independent Dutch Republic: the Treaty of Westphalia or Munster of 1648.
In Dutch painting guardroom scenes evolved to become a popular subject with several specialists active in this domain: Jacob Duck, Pieter Codde, Willem Duyster, Jan Olis, but above all our Anthonie Palamedesz..
Most Dutch guardroom scenes show soldiers either killing time (playing cards or dice, or smoking a pipe, sleeping or drinking), flirting with prostitutes, inspecting their weapons or showing their booty to a superior.
In French a guardroom is called ‘un corps-de-garde’, which in Dutch evolved towards ‘een kortegaerden’.
Why should you buy this painting?
Because it is a typical composition of Anthonie Palamedesz. showing an officer sitting among his soldiers.