The four regentesses of St Elizabeth’s Hospital had their portraits painted by Johannes Verspronck in 1641. The regents had their portraits painted in the same year by Frans Hals, the other great Haarlem portrait painter.
The regentesses sit at a table as if they are holding a meeting. The ledger, the slate with a piece of chalk, and the inkstand and pens are attributes that refer to their work as trustees of the Hospital; they were responsible for the administration and for the organization of the housekeeping, and they supervised the female staff. The ward can be seen through an open door on the right. Beside the bed stands a stick, used by the patient in getting in and out of bed. A sconce hangs on the wall.
We know the names of these women. They are Guertge Laurensdr, Belitge van Schilperoordt, Elisabeth van Teffelen and Beatrix Schatter. Unfortunately we do not know for certain which name belongs to which woman. The regentesses wear sober, dark clothes. By 1640 the large millstone ruffs were already rather outmoded and only older women still wore them. These women are all getting on in years. The youngest are Elisabeth van Teffelen and Beatrix Schatter. They were born in 1584, so that they were well into their fifties when this portrait was painted.