Beastly Condemnation: The Representation of Oldenbarnevelt’s Twenty-Four Judges as Animals


  • Lieke van Deinsen
  • Jan de Hond



The Rijksmuseum’s History Department holds a remarkable early eighteenthcentury album titled Regtspleging van Oldenbarnevelt (The Trial of Oldenbarnevelt). The album contains a collection of thirty-eight watercolour drawings on parchment with written explanations on paper and deals with the infamous trial of the Land’s Advocate. At its heart are cartoons of the twenty-four judges who signed Oldenbarnevelt’s death warrant, with the judges depicted as animals. The Rijksmuseum album is similar to albums in the National Library of the Netherlands and Rotterdam City Archives. In this article we show that Oldenbarnevelt’s judges continued to be subjects of general interest for more than a century. We locate the satirical portrayal of the judges as animals in the broader tradition of animal allegories used as a vehicle for political criticism, and explore the function of the album. It probably served as a key to a painting – not Cornelis Saftleven’s famous work Satire op de berechting van Johan van Oldenbarnevelt (Satire of the Trial of Johan van Oldenbarnevelt) in the Rijksmuseum, but a later composition by an anonymous artist now in the Six Collection. Finally, we come to the conclusion that the album is part of a game of concealment and revelation that is typical of the Remonstrants’ memorial culture. 


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Author Biographies

Lieke van Deinsen

Lieke van Deinsen is senior postdoctoral researcher (fwo) and lecturer at the departments of Art History and Dutch Literature at KU Leuven. She was previously a Johan Huizinga Fellow working in the Rijksmuseum’s history department.

Jan de Hond

Jan de Hond is curator of the Rijksmuseum History Department.




How to Cite

van Deinsen, Lieke, and Jan de Hond. 2021. “Beastly Condemnation: The Representation of Oldenbarnevelt’s Twenty-Four Judges As Animals”. The Rijksmuseum Bulletin 69 (4):322-57.