ANTHONISZ, Cornelis
(b. ca. 1499, Amsterdam, d. ca. 1555, Amsterdam)

Banquet of Members of Amsterdam's Crossbow Civic Guard

1533
Oil on panel, 130 x 207 cm
Historisch Museum, Amsterdam

The painting, known as the Banquet of Copper Coin, is the earliest example of a group portrait of guardsmen seated round a banquet table. It shows a rather primitive juxtaposition of single portraits. The stiff somewhat geometrical composition is characteristic of the early group pictures, and so is the bird's-eye view of the table. The arrangement is simple. Fifteen of the seventeen guardsmen have been lined up in two rows, with only a weak attempt to bind them together. Some of the men are looking towards the spectator, some of them elsewhere. This variety of movement slightly relieves the monotony of the setting, but it endangers the unity. The relief-like arrangement in planes parallel to the surface is characteristic of the Renaissance style. So is the accentuation of the straight horizontal and vertical directions, both giving a certain architectural firmness to the composition.

After the middle of the sixteenth century painters of group portraits adopt a freer arrangement within a more natural space construction.