This horse is a very expensive and prestigious animal. It is shown doing a high-stepping movement called a ‘levade’. This shows the skill of the rider and the fine breeding of the horse.
The artist took liberties with the central Brussels district where he lived. He turned two narrow streets running into each other into a square by removing one side of each of them. The streets have been identified as the Rue des Grands Carmes and the Rue du Chêne.
What is this painting?
This is one of six paintings that record a huge procession in Brussels in 1615. The procession was known as the Ommegang or ‘walk around’. It was held annually to honour a statue of the Virgin Mary kept in one of the most important churches in Brussels.
The Ommegang of 1615 also paid homage to Archduchess Isabella. She and her husband Albert were rulers of the Southern Netherlands on behalf of her half-brother, the King of Spain. The tributes paid to Isabella are the main subject of the painting.
A crossbow-shooting contest was held before the Ommegang as part of the celebrations. In 1615 Isabella won the contest and was named Queen of the Guild of Crossbowmen for life.