Among the rich varieties of genre painting, long recognized as one of the most characteristic and original contributions of the seventeenth-century Dutch school of painting, is a highly entertaining but often overlooked series depicting rowdy, off-duty mercenaries. This hugely successful genre portrayed soldiers as they played cards, drank, rested, and frolicked with dubious women. Here Jochai Rosen defines the characteristics and development of this formula, setting it against the prevailing art and culture of the time.
For art history students and scholars, this book grants a unique opportunity to trace the development of a fascinating Dutch genre theme, from its humble beginning in 1620s Amsterdam through its ascent to a nineteenth-century cultural phenomenon.
Rosen's new study of the guardroom imagery of Dutch painting situates that subgenre within the rich military context of Golden Age culture, better known from major canonical works, such as the militia guild group portraits by Hals or Rembrandt's Nightwatch (1642). The soldier on reserve during a period of relative peace now takes its place along with recent studies of 'merry companies' imagery as a form of social commentary in the emerging new nation. At the same time the guardroom recapitulates the larger artistic evolution of Dutch cabinet pictures across the seventeenth century, from the innovative phase of Jacob Duck to a later 'gentrification' after independence. Uniquely, Rosen also traces the afterlife of the guardroom scene in French Salon pictures of the later nineteenth century, especially by the French painter, Ernst Meissonier. In clear and thoughtful prose, his sustained analysis of a single pictorial types balances art history with social history in the shifting Dutch political and cultural context. This book makes a serious new contribution to the impressive and growing titles in Dutch art history by Amsterdam University Press. Larry Silver, Farquhar Professor of Art History, Department of History of Art at the University of Pennsylvania[-][-]"Jochai Rosen's Soldiers at Leisure provides the first comprehensive investigation into the development of the popular and enduring theme of the guardroom in seventeenth-century Dutch genre painting. This valuable book will be required reading for all scholars who aspire to conduct research on this topic in the future." Wayne Franits, Professor of Art History at Syracuse University[-]