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Gerard ter Borch: 'The Ratification of the Treaty of Münster'

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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.

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