Soldiers Arming Themselves, mid 1630s


On the left, two soldiers caught up in the Thirty Years’ War are dressing, one lifting a bandolier over his head with several cylinders dangling—powder charges containing gunpowder for his musket. On the right, a soldier tickles the nose of a fellow fighter who has presumably passed out after draining the flask nearby. The tickler isn’t aware that his pocket is being picked. Not many Dutch soldiers actually fought in the war, which raged across central Europe from 1618 to 1648, yet paintings of these soldiers became wildly popular.

The Thirty Years’ War began when Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand II of Bohemia attempted to restrict the religious activities of his subjects. His Protestant subjects rebelled and sought support from their Protestant brethren, including the Dutch. The war ended with a series of treaties and the result was a reshaped religious and political map of central Europe.

Soldiers Arming Themselves
Artist Life
about 1600–1667
Accession Number
Curator Approved

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