Sebastian Vrancx is well known for his battle scenes and village plunderings. After a brief trip to Italy in 1597, Vrancx had settled in Brussels by 1600 and became a master of the guild of Saint Luke. In addition to his professional obligations, Vrancx was active in civic organizations and in the rhetoricians' chamber de Violieren
, for which he wrote many farces, comedies, and tragedies. The present scene of a gathering of militia in a clearing at the edge of a wood is closely related to, and likely executed soon after, a panel by Vrancx entitled The Encampment
in the collection of the Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg, that is dated to 1617.1
Sir Peter Paul Rubens was an early admirer of Vrancx's works and is known to have had paintings by him in his collection, furthermore there are two sheets of studies attributed to Rubens in the Uffizi after Vrancx,2
in which some of the figures have been identified as relating to a battle picture in the collection at the Staatsgalerie Aschaffenburg.3
1. See Hamburger Kunsthalle, Katalog der alten Meister der Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg 1966, p. 173, cat. no. 334, reproduced.
2. Uffizi, Florence; Inv. nos. 1334 E and 1723 E.
3. See Staatsgalerie Aschaffenburg, Staatsgalerie Aschaffenburg Katalog, Munich 1975, p. 197, cat. no. 6500, reproduced pl. 13.