Annual competition of the Archers’ Guild

Recently added to our collections, this painting portrays the Annual competition of the Archers’ Guild at the foot of the Wollendriestoren. The work of the Brussels painter Gillis van Tilborgh (1625-1678).

This oil painting on canvas shows the population of Brussels assembled on the occasion of the annual competition of the archers’ guild. In the middle, the archers try to shoot a ‘bird’ placed on a mast at the top of the tower.

The tower, a major player

This tall tower, known as the Wollendriestoren, owes its name to its proximity to the rue aux Laines (wool street). Mentioned as early as 1423, it was the largest tower of Brussels’ second city wall. Some scientists even used it to measure sea level. Though it was preserved after the fortifications were been demolished, the count of Mérode demanded its destruction. It disappeared from the Brussels cityscape in 1807.

Why add this work to the collections?

  • The museum has very few paintings of the 17th century.
  • Apart from cartographic representations, until now the museum did not own an image of this tower.
  • Gillis van Tilborgh, a prominent Brussels painter, specialized in group portraits and genre scenes. Several of his works are to be found in museums worldwide.

To learn more about this acquisition, find out all about its arrival in the museum. And for details on the work itself, its inventory description is available here.