That which we today know as Holland was once
 part of the Spanish Netherlands. Rembrandt’s countrymen
 became engaged in a revolt against their Spanish governors.
 Velazquez, the Spanish court painter, was part of this 80-year long war
 and its propaganda. In 1648 peace was concluded in Münster, 
but at one level the battle continued
 – that between Rembrandt and Velazquez. 

Velazquez, The Surrender of Breda, 1634                                                   Rembrandt, The Nightwatch, 1642

These artists gave us "The Surrender of Breda" 1634 and "The Nightwatch" 1642.
Lets try to understand the painted action and relationships between these paintings.
Initially I noticed a boot and read between the spaces.
Lets us trust they had a source that left a trace in the two artists oeuvre. 

Why bother? The Spaniards fate was sealed.

Velazquez, The surrender of Breda, 1634 

Is Nassau about to kiss his company members ?

Has he gone to war with an ephebos ? 

Whats is this? A gigantic dick ? 

Does the painting insinuate that Nassau is gay ?


Rembrandt, The abduction of Ganymede, 1635

We find an answer to the Spanish affront in a very unusual painting by Rembrandt.
A depiction of Ganymede from 1635. The painting follows no thematic tradition, 
instead, from an art historical perspective it stands out as more than odd. 
We see Zeus in the form of an eagle abducting the most beautiful of boys, 
to be a cup bearer for the gods. 
But Rembrandt portrays this myth without any male beauty.
The abducted boy is crying, grimacing and urinating in the eagle-god’s claws.
There is a clear stance against any homosexual resonance in the depiction.

It is clearly shown that the boy´s youth and virtue are completely beyond reproach.
We read this from the small bunch of cherries held in his hand.
The same applies to the young men in Nassau´s company, their honor is untouched.


Rembrandt, Belsazzar´s feast, 1635
The words are those of King Belshazzar as he sees the glowing text appear upon the royal palace wall. 
The meaning of the script is explained to the slothful and not-so-humble king;
Mene - God has determined the days of your kingdom and has ended it! 
Tekel - You have been weighed on the scales and found to be too light! 
Peres - Your kingdom has been divided and given to the Medes and Persians.
We can regard Velazquez’ painting and the Spanish empire in the light of this biblical text. 
Rembrandt’s message is directed at Velazquez and his capitulation scene. 
To make the connection even stronger we can ask ourselves whether Rembrandt is not purposely applying 
a somewhat low and crude level of interpretation? I believe he is. 
There is a young boy in the shadows behind the table, let us follow the emblematic of the figs and grapes.
The main woman in the scene seems to lift her skirts in front of the king. 
The woman on the right moves her left hand toward his sex while appearing to be going down 
for an oral act with the vessel. 
Another woman's open mouth in front of her clasped hands invites similar thoughts. 
And then we have the young boy, green in the face is blowing a little flute just behind
the ass of the old man. On the whole the painting has an exceptionally physical presence.
Basically, a pleasure-loving king surrounded by female action. 

Rembrandt, Simsons weddingfeast, 1638

Samson is a man with a taste for women. The bible tells of a riddle he presented to his wedding guests 
and how they solved it solved by cheating with the help of the bride. 
But Samson gets his revenge.
There is something hidden under the table, something we cannot see. 
The bride seems both lonely and remarkably calm although the canopy pattern appears to stress her mind. 
She is carrying something unborn, an idea!
In the painting’s quieter corner we meet a familiar figure, 
Ganymede, who has just served two of the guests.
Grimacing and green in the face they don’t seem quite satisfied with what has been offered. 
The painters guild in Leiden not only praised the painting,
they also created a task for a master, the depiction of the spinning wheel.

Velazquez, Menippus - Mars - Aisopos 1639-41

First the view of the cynical satirist Menippus. Then Mars unclothed in all his naked attraction. 
Finally followed by Aesop as a smelly tanner. Are they complaining?
Significant for the paintings is how they both conceal and expose.
What is it we do not see? What is exposed? Is it achieved with the help of a wicked satire?
The lust for a naked man ?
Not without one musing over the rumors that follow Nassau.

 Rembrandt, The Nightwatch, 1642

A victorius company member adorns the old conquistador helmet with oak leaves. 

A ribbon tied to the Ganymede painting.


It would be the shadow of a man who reaches for his brother-in-arms .. weapon.. If it seems so, 
remember that it takes place in the interests of Amsterdam.
- Surrender or suffer from both French uniforms and the weapons of the Swedish king.
So he is clothed, and the old gift, the partisan, is still in the Royal Palace.
The troops were coordinated, for we are back in time in the Swedish-French stage
of the Thirty Years War.

The boy who runs errands for the men? He maintains his smile over the rose
that has been thrown in his steps. We can hardly call him Ganymede!

Rembrandt´s signature next to the boot.

As barber to King Midas you need to be silent about what you have seen.
The idea is that Holland´s epicenter "The Nightwatch" contains a rhetorical answer as to whether a 
member of the Nassau family was gay or not.  
That the painting takes the form out of a simple insult. 
Followed by biblical motifs with low and coarse undertones. 
No, that cannot be said!
When this story then reaches "Las Meninas", all the possibilities collapse.
The eternity of this art will not be dissolved by the tread of a little boy!
I would be a dwarf. It does not help that Rembrandt could take all the donkey stories to heart.
Amsterdam´s opinion was carved in stone. The task appears hopeless.

But what about Bartholomeus van der Helst’s 1639 militia portrait, can it also be read 
from this perspective?
The bright dressed company member in sharp focus raises an association
with the efebos in the capitulation scene.

Bartholomeus van der Helst, Militamen of the company of Captain Roelof Bicker, 1639

Between the two expressive flanks this painting plays itself out.
It seems to be about shooting a beautiful curly haired and well-dressed man.
Surprisingly, and maybe you will feel disgusted, we have to use homophobic rhetoric.
Look from left to right:

Surely he maintains some distance? A skeptical eye,
slightly pulling his upper lip and the eyebrows held high.

Two boys, one looks down ashamedly. Has he misunderstood all?
He clearly has no idea what kind of weapon he holds in his hand.
One wonders what comments their own portraits raised.
- I am blushing and you´re standing there pointing at my dick!

-Possibly little boys curiosity.
But our sticks prevent naked games.
- Cover yourself !

A shiny bareheaded man and one well dressed, exposing himself to the men’s glances.
Here lies an accusation.
-We would shoot you if you exposed yourself to a man!

He is faithful to his woman. Like a dog !
- This is empty talk, fill my glass!
- He knows how to hold and hide his dick !
- Nobody would put a plug in that barrel hole!
-Would a rat run there, its dead!

- I swear to God !                                                                                  -The thought makes me sick!

Rembrandt, Mordokais triumph, 1641

These could easily been the words of Velazquez when he completed Philip IV´s tribute 
to his old commander and his victory at Breda.
But the expression is from the bible and the story of Haman, King Ahasuerus, his queen Esther 
and her cousin the old jew Mordechai.
The story ends badly for Haman. He is hanged on the very gallows he had prepared for Mordechai.

"The Nightwatch" is the ’gallows’ for the capitulation scene. 
But making such a comparison raises a problem.
The words could also be applied to Rembrandt, which Velasquez perceives…
But first let us first say goodbye to the Spanish military commander and his horse.

Velazquez, Philip IV of Spain, 1641

Magnificently equipped !

Velazquez, The fable of Arachne, 1644-48

Being challenged Velázquez now responds both to Rembrandt and the Dutch painter Angel. 
He does it with his masterful depiction of a spinning wheel. This was just what Angel had asked for in a treatise in 1642. 
He wanted to see the painted movement of a spinning wheel. A task for a master. 
Hearsay or substantial information? We have strong reason to believe that Velázquez searched for any information he could obtain.. 
What had Rembrandt and his colleagues really achieved? We can assume the information came from the then 
Spanish southern provinces of the Netherlands. Velázquez wanted all information he could get. 
I am of the opinion that it was then that Velázquez presented ”The fable of Arachne” 
with its message that one should not challenge an eminent master.
The consequence for Rembrandt was that he would now share the same destiny as Arachne 
- she who challenged Pallas Athene in the art of tapestry making but finally hanged herself with her own thread. 
An appropriate ’theme inside a theme’ from the perspective of Rembrandt's allusion 
to the story of Haman and his fate. 
Velazquez could just as well have argued that Rembrandt acted in the same way as Haman ! 

Despite Spain’s military setbacks,  Pallas Athene, the goddess of war and protector of the arts, 
will bring victorious messages, if we are to believe Velazquez. 
But it was not just the fame of "The Nightwatch" which indicated that the banner of victory 
and the fortunes of war had changed sides. It was a message of reality.

The meeting of two opposing sides is established in The Surrender of Breda”. 
Velázquez here portrays a ladder on the former Dutch side. The ladder in the painting could be interpreted as a warning 
to not see oneself as an equal to God. 
But the ladder is so well placed next to the pile of cloth that I came to wonder 
if it is not also a question of equipment for taking down all the Dutch victory banners 
and stacking them on a pile. 
The banner was taken in triumph from Velázquez ́ capitulation scene to The Nightwatch
But now in lack of a Spanish victory a blood-coloured cloth 
is torn down in The fable of Arachne

The upper part of  The fable of Arachne” with its triumphal arch is a later addition to the painting. 
Perhaps there was an historical event,  or is the addition just a means to triumph over
The Nightwatch” ?

Rembrandt, The Holy Family with a Curtain, 1646

At the time Rembrandt was working with his peaceful depiction of the Holy Family, 
information about Velázquez ́ new painting probably reached Holland. 
This probably did not worry Rembrandt, as there was nothing ingenious about it. 
Velázquez was probably just showing off with a skillful depiction of a spinning wheel. 
In the case of Calderon he had rewritten his play ”El sitio de Breda” and a second version was printed in 1640.
Maybe Rembrandt responded, with his little panel presenting a new and strange version of the Holy Family. 
A trompe l ́oeil with a curtain in front of a painted framework. 
As I see it, the uniqueness of this theme is the crying child of Jesus. I thought he was supposed to be the calmest child in all history. 
But his mother is giving him comfort. In other words this is a tableau over a painting and it gives consolation. 
This is remarkably similar to the case with Calderon and Velazquez.
Is this what is being told in this uniqe and strange picture?
An art historian would probably overlook the crying child and say something about Apelles.

Rembrandt, Virgin with child, cat and a snake, 1644

Which does not only refer to the scene with the crying baby Jesus. 

Rembrandt, The judgment over Haman, 1654-55

Rembrandt gives us; The judgment of Haman, pleading for his life.
But what is it that distracts the king? A profane and legitimate curiosity, a new Spanish painting?

Rembrandt, Quintus Fabius Maximus, 1655


Velazquez, Las Meninas, 1656

The ingenious idea in ”The Nightwatch” is still unsurpassed and that makes Rembrandt a winner. 
He could perceive himself as a king among painters.
But the situation must have awakened Velázquez’ questions . 
Maybe in due time he realised that ”The Nightwatch” was just mirroring itself in ”The Surrender of Breda”. 

A conclusion could be that Velazquez’ (as a source) makes Rembrandts portrait. 
Rembrandt has insidiously placed himself in front of the crown of Velazquez’ works. 
These questions must have puzzled the royal painter and I believe they arose for discussion in the staterooms of the royal palace in Madrid. 
It had developed into an artistic duel similar to the one between Pan and Apollo. 
I have found a room where these problems have a solution and where Velázquez’ analysis is reflected. 
Yes,  those alluding paintings still hang there – in the room for Velazquez’ ”Las Meninas” we also find Mazosń two paintings 
Pallas and Arachne ”and ”Apollo and Pan”. 
Here Philip IV bestows honour and rank to Velázquez.
The mirror reveals a royal reflection. 
Las Meninas” is famous for the illusion that you could feel like a king while Velázquez paints your portrait. 
Above all it raises the question of who is the king? And who executed the painting? The king? 
But the primary viewer in these pieces of eternity is Velázquez himself. 
His words could easily have been:
 - Standing here in front of my painting I am the king - of painters. 
Maybe somebody in the audience raised the question:
 - What about Rembrandt? We have all heard and remember how Spinola ́s horse was driven away like a pitiable dog. 
How Rembrandt felt like a king in front of your painting.

Velázquez has painted a possible answer: 
- I am tired of him. Rembrandt will not feel like a king! 
- Can you not see that, in front of a dwarf, I have painted a calm dog that does not care if a little boy is treading on its back. 

Velázquez is once again the king of painters, Rembrandt a dwarf and little boy. 
What an ingenious idea and the beauty of the painting and the Infanta Margarita caught everybody ́s eye.
So, to my conclusion of Velázquez ́ tired eyes and the mirror: 
We cannot exist at the same time. I have reason to believe that he was addressing Rembrandt and not his own king.
It was an analysis of the situation with "The Nightwatch" that gave us this painting.

Rembrandt, Ahasuerus and Haman at the Feast of Esther, 1660

- How can we honour this man? Do not misunderstand. 
In the bible it is Haman who receives the question, and he believes it refers to himself. 
Rembrandt had. ever since The Nightwatch, maintained a profane and special allusion to the theme -
Velazquez. The man will not be honored.

Rembrandt, The Conspiracy of the Batavians under Claudius Civilis, 1661-62

Amsterdam 1662
(Newly  reedated)

Amsterdam 10th October 2000

The arch - A posthumous triumph for Velazquez.


Rembrandt, Lucretias suicide, 1664

Surely the was some bragging over Velazquez’ portrayed princesses.
But among the legends of the Roman Empire there is a parallel which brings up
the Roman republic’s founders.
The story of Lucretia begins with how men are bragging over their beautiful and faithful women
but ends in Lucretia´s suicide and the revolt against the old Roman Kingdom.
It is the altar for both the republic and the Dutch revolt.

Velazquez, Hamans Recognizes his Fate, 1665 

Sadness, regret and remorse.
Both Mordechai and King Ahasuerus give expression to these feelings.
The decision is made. Rembrandt’s painting will not hang in Amsterdam's new courthouse.
No one clearly understands what the man actually thought.

Rembrandt, Lucretias suicide, 1666

A knife cuts the canvas but it is just one painting along the thread of the story.
A charm - In other words the allurement and charm of Rembrandt´s work will endure. 

Rembrandt, The Painter Gerard de Lairesse, 1665

Surely, the hat is a little too large? And what big fumbling hands!
Would he really be able to complete the task and immortalise the Dutch victory at Breda?
Rembrandt would certainly have had views about the task being given to Gerard de Lairesse.

Let us now search for a new self-portrait by Rembrandt!
One of the eighteen company members of "The Nightwatch" never got to see the painting.
He died before Rembrandt completed it.
But from an all-seeing divine triangle we meet his gaze,
His rifle rests on his shoulder but his brothers is firing a salute.
Now we can once again count the men, and suddenly the heart 
in the original center of the painting is vacant! 

It´s not every day you find a self-portrait by Rembrandt. 

Carl Fredrik Hill, Stenbrott vid Oise II, 1877

Okänd konstnär "MFC"