A masterpiece of ter Borch's early years, this painting is also one of exceptional historical interest. It records the treaty, ratified at Münster in Westphalia in 1648, that ended in Holland's favour its eighty-year struggle with Spain. Executed on copper, the painting shows the 'Ratskammer' (council chamber) of the Town Hall of Münster and includes portraits of seventy-seven men. The action is presented with unusual clarity, showing six Dutch delegates behind the table in the centre with two Spanish delegates to the right, ratifying the treaty simultaneously, though in fact the Spanish were the first to take the oath. A Franciscan stands behind the Spaniards on the extreme right, while on the far left is a self-portrait of the painter.

Key facts

Artist
Artist dates
1617 - 1681
Full title
The Swearing of the Oath of Ratification of the Treaty of Münster
Date made
1648
Medium and support
Oil on copper
Dimensions
45.4 x 58.5 cm
Inscription summary
Signed; Dated and inscribed
Acquisition credit
Presented by Sir Richard Wallace, 1871
Inventory number
NG896
Location in Gallery