Arrows of the guild of St. 207 x 337 cm
Group portrait - "The arrows of the guild of St. Adriana- was written by Hals in 1633. The seething cheerfulness of the paintings of 1627 gives way to much more restraint here, the dynamic composition based on the underlined diagonals, to the calm distribution of the figures horizontally. A huge canvas depicts a bunch of shooters in the open.
Apparently, the case is taking place in the courtyard of the Old Rifle Guild, the building of which is still preserved in Harlem. The yard is overgrown with tall, dense trees, their dark brownish greens serves as a backdrop for elegant figures. The surviving old copies from the picture suggest that the colors of the landscape darkened somewhat from time to time; initially it was lighter, the spatial relationships between the individual trees were more distinct, etc. Now the trees make up a single gloomy mass, a hint of the mysterious poetry of the evening appears in the picture, a reflection of this poetry falls on people, the whole scene seems beautiful and significant. It is difficult for us to judge how these or those colors have changed, and how these changes affect our perception, but we can say with confidence that Hals himself sought to give his work a romantic elation and beauty.
The left part of the picture is occupied by a dense group of officers surrounding Colonel Johan Klas Loo. The colonel himself - an elderly Harlem burgher - has the authority of power, mind and willpower. In his “retinue” there are also many bright, although not so significant characters. So, the mood of the picture, the impression it makes, is largely determined by the figure of Captain Schatter, standing sideways to the viewer to the right of the colonel. Tall and handsome, in a light yellowish suit, with a gorgeous blue officer scarf, Schatter with a captivating smile, sparkling his eyes, turns to the viewer. The grace of his posture, enchanting facial expression are both natural and slightly emphasized. It seems that he plays a role with enthusiasm, plays easily, because it fits perfectly with his "data", corresponds to his nature. It is interesting that the image, which serves as the key to the romantic poetry of the picture, conceals both a share of irony and, moreover, the irony of not only Hals, but, possibly, of the “actor” - Schatter. Finally, on the right side of the picture stands out the clever, thin, assembled captain van der Horn, who got up half a turn to several arrows, which the artist freely planted behind a simple wooden table.
Here, the role of the key image that introduces us to the world of painting is played by three and, moreover, three such different characters as Colonel Loo and captain Schatter and van der Horn. Perhaps in this the complexity and diversity of the content of this almost the most beautiful of the portraits of shooters painted by Hals was most evident.
An interesting detail: at the right edge of the canvas with a book in his hands is depicted Lieutenant Hendrick Gerrits Pot, a famous Harlem artist. After this work, Hals only painted group portraits of shooters twice. One of them remained unfinished, the so-called "Slim Company" in the Rijksmueeum in Amsterdam.