Syndics of the Drapers’ Guild is also sometimes refered to as The Sampling Officials, translated directly from its original Dutch title of De Staalmeesters. This title helps to explain much more about the content of this scene, with several men assessing the quality of a piece of cloth.
This manual assurance of quality has been used to promote a Dutch cigar brand, attempting to underline the quality of their own product. You will find photographs of the painting itself on some of their packaging.
Those pictured here were behind the decision to commission Rembrandt to produce it. As such, they will have requested to be portrayed in a professional, precise manner where they continued to ensure the quality of these locally produced cloth. Such a strong reputation was essential at that time in building a brand and attracting customers to a particular region.
Whilst taking on a host of commissioned portraits, particularly in later life, it is not believed that Rembrandt produced any other corporate group artworks, other than the Syndics of the Drapers’ Guild piece found here. It is also unusual in its size, measuring a monumental 191.5 cm × 279 cm which would have been impacted by its intended hanging position.
Rembrandt's career is amongst the most researched in all of art history, such is his prominent reputation amongst those of the Renaissance and Baroque periods. As such, it has even been confirmed as to the individuals portrayed in this piece, namely (from left to right):
- Jacob van Loon
- Volckert Jansz
- Willem van Doeyenburg
- Frans Hendricksz Bel
- Aernout van der Mye
- Jochem de Neve