Portrait of Rombout Heyns

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Portrait of Rombout Heyns

Jan Verhoeven

17th century


Rombout Heyns (ca. 1560 – 1630) elegantly waves the flag of Mechelen’s gunners’ guild or Kolveniersgilde. The gunners used a ‘clover’, an early firearm. He wears his Sunday best. In the background we can distinguish the Aldermen’s House, where the guild’s meetings were held since 1616. Heyns was their flagbearer from 1580 until 1630.

According to tradition, Hens managed to save the guild’s flag, at risk of his own life, during the English Fury, when Calvinist troops recaptured Mechelen with the help of English and Scottish mercenaries who sacked the city. The painting is attributed to Jan Verhoeven (Mechelen, c. 1600 – c. 1676). If this attribution is correct, then this portrait was painted after Heyns died. This was possibly done to remember his heroic feat during the English Fury for posterity.

The flag of the Mechelen gunners’ guild features plenty of Burgundian elements, such as the Burgundian cross and the Burgundian flint or fire iron.





Title: Portrait of Rombout Heyns, alias Smets, flagbearer of the gunners’ guild in 1580

Object type: painting

Maker: Jan Verhoeven (c. 1600 – c. 1676)

Date: 17th century

Medium: oil on canvas

Dimensions: height: 201 cm,
width: 123 cm

Inventory number: S0065



Wilfried van Nespen, G. Simon en J. Gerarts, Schatten van de Vlaamse Schuttersgilden, tent.cat. Antwerpen, Museum Vleeshuis, en Brussel, Koninklijke Musea voor Kunst en Geschiedenis, 1966: cat. 93.