Dwarfs in the Dutch Army?

Yeah yeah, I know, band name, right?

Anyway, in this painting of Maurice of Orange leading his army into battle in 1600, you can see several men who appear to be dwarfs, or if not technically dwarfs, at least very small men. The proportion of their heads to their bodies, though, makes me think they are, in fact, intended to be dwarfs.

There are two of them, identically-dressed, on either side of Maurice, running with hats in their hands. A third is on the far-left, behind Maurice’s helmet-bearer, dressed in a red uniform.

I am well aware that there were “court dwarfs” who resided in the homes of noblemen back then. But I don’t know why they would be on a battlefield. Does anyone know what the deal is with this painting? Is the display of the dwarfs supposed to be allegorical or symbolic?

There’s another one on the opposing side. You can see him directly to the right of the head of the white horse in the foreground.

I saw that guy on the opposing side (not literally the opposing side of the battle - they’re all in the same army) and considered him, but it seems to me that he is just crouching down with one knee bent.

Are they dwarfs, or are they boys (pages or the like)?

I thought about that too, and I think their faces look a little too developed to be boys. It could just be that the painter is bad at painting children, but that’s unlikely, since the royal painters back then painted children all the time. Those small men have the facial structure of adults.

I think they’re meant to be children. Note basically all the (full sized) men in the picture have facial hair. The Dwarf-kids don’t.

A little offtopic, maybe, but is that dog in the middle at the bottom of the painting taking a leak? :stuck_out_tongue:

I dunno, there’s that guy in red on the left edge who has a mustache and goatee.

And both of the dwarfs look like Art Garfunkel.

I’d venture to say that it was symbolic.

William looks out of proportion to that horse he is riding( which looks like it wants to cry, makes me wonder if the artist was being a little sarcastic.)


The proportions are out of whack in general, there’s really no way to tell whether they’re dwarves or not. But in any case, if Orange’s bodyservants were dwarves, why would they not have been at the battle?

Note that they’re not actually* in battle* yet. I think the dwarfs/pageboys are attendants, whatever else they may be (I vote that the ones in red are dwarfs and the ones in black are boys, personally - not that none of the other, larger men have missing facial hair), and would stay in/return to the main camp when actual shenanigans happened. Not that these earlier cultures had a problem putting young men in harm’s way - witness drummer boys and the Napoleonic-era naval system of midshipman officer cadets.

It was not unknown for court dwarves to take part in battles. The most famous English court dwarf, Jeffery Hudson, was present at the seige of Breda by Maurits’s brother, Frederik Hendrik, in 1637 and he is said to have commanded a Royalist troop of horse during the English Civil War.

But I think the two figures flanking Maurits are just two young grooms, while the man on the far left is suffering from a bad case of muddled perspective.

Just for hoots, check out all the iconographic symbols littered around.

The dogs classically symbolize loyalty (very frequent in Dutch renaissance marriage paintings).

I don’t think the horse shoe lying on the ground is unintentional.

Anybody catch anything else?

Identical twin dwarfs?

Why are the flags on the right all going one way, while the flags on the right are going in differing directions?

The dog is peeing.

Artist whose perspective is all of of whack? Yep. I saw at attempt at painting kids there, not dwarfs.

The dog isn’t peeing, that’s a stalk of grass.

The three-legged dog is trying to convince the crying horse to carry on.

What is in front of the horseshoe? A pipe?

And I second the stalk-of-grass theory.