syds van botnia, 1576

Syds van Botnia was a powerful man, as may be concluded from his clothes, coats of arms, jewellery and, perhaps most of all, his charisma in this portrait. A conspicuous detail is the gold bird’s claw hanging on the broad ribbon around his neck. It served to remove threads of meat from between his teeth, like a toothpick. To show off that he could afford to buy meat, he wore it as a piece of jewellery and a status symbol.

Syds van Botnia, grietman van Wymbritseradeel, Meester van de portretten der Bannelingen, 1576

Syds van Botnia, grietman of Wymbritseradeel, Master of the Portraits of the Exiles, 1576

Around 1600, Syds van Botnia was chairman of the waterboard, a member of the Provincial Executive Council and grietman of the municipality of Wymbritseradeel. The function of a grietman was comparable to that of a mayor now. At the time, the province was divided into large municipalities which were called grietenijen.