After the fall of Antwerp in 1585, immigrant Flemish artists arrived in Haarlem and added to the already thriving painting community. Between 1605 and 1635 over one hundred thousand paintings were produced in Haarlem, with competition for commissions high.
There were several guilds formed to protect the professional status of the artists. Most prominent among these was the Saint Lucas Guild, with Frans Hals as one of its members. The Saint Lucas Guild went through many changes as the demand for paintings decreased and it was dissolved in 1795, later revived and again dissolved in 1860.
The artist group KZOD, which rents the upper floor of De Waag, was established in 1821. It was approved by royal decree on 26 January 1932 as the Federated Holland Societies of Artists, Sculptors and Engravers. To become a member of the society, the artists' work had to be submitted to be juried by a panel of nine art professors. Five votes were needed for acceptance.
My father had joined the group before the Nazi occupation in 1939 and continued after he returned in 1945. It was with the acknowledgement and support from other artists that he submitted his work. His work was not accepted at the first presentation. However, as a second presentation, he submitted his self-portrait. My father was honoured with all nine votes, a first in KZOD history, and this portrait became his masterpiece.
With the mass emigration that took place in the early fifties from the Netherlands, artists looked at the new world to establish themselves. Throughout the years the membership of KZOD declined and the studio is now rented out to a more modern group.
We climbed the heavily worn spiral stairway to the KZOD studio above De Waag. The studio was inspiring and intimate, with soft light filtering through the lightly tinted glass. We looked out the window, and below us across the street saw Zonder Zorg, secured alongside the Spaarne. She too was at peace with her surroundings.