Rembrandt Paints Sampling Officials of the Drapers' Guild

Rembrandt brilliantly exploits horizontals - a classical rather than a Baroque device - for the unification of the group.

Three horizontals run through the picture at almost equal intervals: the edge of the table and the arm of the chair at the left mark the lowest one; the middle one is established by the prevailing level of the heads; and the upper one runs along the edge of the wainscoting. But here again Rembrandt avoids all formal rigidity. These repeated horizontals are broken by sharp deviations on all three levels. The sharpest is in the group itself, in the strong curve of the head on the left. With a kind of contrapuntal effect, this movement is echoed by the slight rise in the upper horizontal on that side.

Continuing to accept commissions, Rembrandt painted his last great collective portrait, The Syndics of the Drapers' Guild, in 1662. This piece again shows the innovation of the now mature artist. The characters in the painting are plausable and have presence. It is as if the viewer has walked in on their meeting, seemingly uninvited. The stark black of their costume is contrasted by the heavy decorative cloth on the table. Everything in the room is given substance by the careful rendering of light.