Soldiers Forcing Their Way into a Cottage, plate 1 from The Horrors of the Spanish War (Boereverdriet)

After David Vinckboons Netherlandish
Publisher Boetius Adams Bolswert Netherlandish

Not on view

Although David Vinckboons made only three prints himself, his designs were the basis for more prints than any other Netherlandish artist in the early seventeen century. Many of the prints illustrate proverbs or scenes from contemporary life, often with satirical overtones. The present work is from a series of four engravings published by Boetius Adams Bolswert in 1610. Bolswert was himself a printmaker, best known for his prints after Abraham Bloemaert, the Mannerist artist, and this series has sometimes been attributed to Bloemaert.

The subject of the series is the Eighty Years War (1566/68-1688) during which the domestic population of the Netherlands, many of whom were Protestant, sought to free themselves from Spain and the harsh restrictions that their Catholic rulers placed on them. It focused specifically on the harm inflicted on the peasants: the boerverdriet (peasants’ sorrow).

The first plate shows the soldiers, many of whom may have been mercenaries in their fancy uniforms, holding guns and pikes. The lead figure extends his halberd and sets his foot against the door of a house, trying to break in. They are accompanied by camp followers, harlots and merchants who made money off the army. In the background the streets are deserted, no occupants of the village are visible.

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