Rembrandt’s painting depicts the
moment before a parade when confusion reigns. Participants are still
uncertain of their places. The two men in the front are the officers of the
fraternity which is sponsoring a parade in honor of a state visit by the
Queen of France to Holland. Similar to Caravaggio, Bernini, and Velazquez,
the painter avoided any semblance of idealization or beautification. The
individual members of the fraternity each donated their share toward the
total cost of the painting, and were thereby included in the composition. In
exchange for their payments, they expected realistic portrayals.
“the masses.” The very low value background, high value on the figures’ faces
and earthy color tone were probably quite typical of visual perception in an
era before electric lighting and modern textile dyes. The paintings by
Caravaggio, Velazquez, and Rembrandt do not represent the lives of the gods
or those on the level of the angels, but reflect the audience itself.