BAEN, Jan de
(b. 1633, Haarlem, d. 1702, Den Haag)

The Corpses of the De Witt Brothers

1672
Oil on canvas, 70 x 56 cm
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

In 1672 the great European powers joined forces and attacked the Dutch Republic, threatening to overwhelm the country. This cost the De Witt brothers, Johan and Cornelis, their lives. De Baen's painting depicts their corpses hanging on the Groene Zoodje on the Vijverberg in The Hague. Johan de Witt was the Pensionary (the factual leader) of Holland, the most powerful province. He was assassinated by a carefully organized lynch "mob" after visiting his brother Cornelis de Witt in prison. He was decoyed into this trap by a forged letter.