Born in Haarlem, Bartholomeus van der Helst (1613-1670) learned his trade as a painter in Amsterdam. As a young artist he soon enjoyed considerable fame, as his prestigious commissions testify. The enormous civic guard portraits that he painted in the early 1640s reveal Van der Helst's talent for composing large groups of figures and for portraying subjects in confident poses. For many years, connoisseurs placed Van der Helst's 'Celebration of the Peace of Munster' on a par with Rembrandt's 'Night Watch'. Van der Helst remained the leading portrait painter of Amsterdam's patrician class until his death in 1670. Beside portraits, Van der Helst also painted genre pieces, a few biblical episodes and various mythological scenes.