A Soldier on Guard Blowing Out a Match
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Jacques de Gheyn II
Flemish, about 1597
Pen and black ink and gray wash, incised for transfer
10 5/16 x 7 1/8 in.

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"To showe to posteritie the manner of souldiers apparel used in these dayes." So wrote Jacques de Gheyn of his goals for his lavishly illustrated book The Exercise of Arms, published in 1607. In this preparatory drawing for the book, de Gheyn strove to create the illusion of a living soldier, carefully modeled in the round and exhibiting a wealth of detail both in costume and weaponry. Focusing on the intricate task of lighting the fuse of his musket, the soldier wears a large plumed hat, billowing striped pantaloons, and high boots, with powder charges strung across his breast. De Gheyn used a simple but imposing pose to create interest, with long, diagonal lines created by the soldier's musket, his sword, and the intersecting angle of his musket rest.

Conceived as a military handbook for the infantry, Exercise of Arms contained one hundred and seventeen designs illustrating the use of the smallshot, the musket, and the pike. Count Johann II of Nassau-Siegen commissioned the text to give the Dutch army a set of clear and systematic military procedures for training soldiers. In the final edition, each image also contained a description of the action shown and its associated commands.