Up until recently, many believed this was Rembrandt’s masterpiece. According to most experts, it was likely painted by one of Rembrandt’s students, but it is a virtuoso work none-the-less.
The thing that art historian have failed to pass along, however, is the painting’s true title: The Grondak Slayer.
In the mid 1600s Holland had a terrible infestation of grondaks, which were constantly eating Dutch babies and other small livestock. Many of the light infantrymen in local militia were recruited to exterminate this deadly foe, but The Grondak Slayer is one of the few to survive the dangerous task.
I’ve always liked this painting, even though the copy my dad had of it in his office freaked me out a bit. The painter has captured the essential nature of The Grondak Slayer.There is something compelling and terrifying about his face: the deep-set eyes, the wrinkly forehead, the manly mustache. It all contrasts so wonderfully, if not colorfully, with the gold filigreed helmet and the red plume. The hat says, “I’m a complete tool,” but the face says, “Fuck with me and you die.”
Especially if you were a grondak.
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