Rembrandt's Syndics of the Drapers' Guild of 1662 is widely recognized as the crowning achievement of his career. Yet scholars cannot agree on what the five "sample-masters" positioned around a table are doing, or who they are looking at, if anyone. I propose that Rembrandt portrayed the sample-masters looking up from his studies of them in their account book and out at him. His brilliant solution for a specific artistic problem was based on the concrete circumstances of his process of composition and selfconsciously reflects on portraiture as a process in space and time. Rembrandt reveals himself as "hidden master" or invisible viewer, engaging his sitters in a dialectical relation, which we vicariously experience in turn.
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