From the fourteenth century on, many Flemish and Brabant towns had guilds of archers that practised with arms. The archers also organised competitions and drinking sprees with their brother-archers from other towns. This painting of an archers' festival was commissioned by the Antwerp Guild of the Old Arbalest. In the middle of the festivities is a man enthroned under a baldachin: he is the winner of the tournament. The gilded key above his head indicates a free banquet. Two jesters are morris-dancing to the beat of a black drummer. A gate proves to be no obstacle to certain individuals looking to join the exclusive party. This mysterious painting has at least yielded up its many meanings. A man in the garden stares straight out at us; it is the artist depicted on the dual portrait elsewhere in this room.


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