Upward mobility – networking in the 17th century

This blog post in Dutch/ deze blog post in het Nederlands


In the book Managing Authentic Relationships, the Deputy Director of the Hermitage Amsterdam Paul Mosterd writes about relationship management from a historic perspective. Mosterd covers this topic by describing what can be seen on four 17th century militia paintings from the Amsterdam Museum and Stedelijk Museum Alkmaar.

One of the paintings is used for the cover of the book, the other three can be found at the beginning of the three main parts of the book; ‘Authentic Relationships’, ‘Managing Relationships’ and ‘Successful Encounters’. The painting below by Pieter van Anraedt (made in 1675) marks the beginning of ‘Managing Relationships’. 

Managing Authentic Relationships; 17th century networking

The Regents of the Oudezijds Huiszittenhuis, Pieter van Anraedt, 1675, canvas 237 x 425 cm, collection Amsterdam Museum (on loan from the City of Amsterdam)


“It is said that at a dinner, Winston Churchill was seated next to a highly-decorated young man whom he did not immediately recognise. He asked the Sir with interest how he had earned his knighthood. The young man answered proudly that he was a painter. Churchill replied: ‘I see! Art is the easiest way up’.”

“This is upward mobility – an essential premise for networking. If you can’t climb the social ladder, networking is effectively pointless. Ferdinand Bol’s career is an appropriate example of what Churchill meant. He was an extremely successful and highly respected painter, yet it was only after his second wedding in 1669 that he made a real step forward. Anne van Erckel became his wife, and she was very wealthy. Overnight, Bol went from portraying to being portrayed. He was invited to enter the board of one of the city’s most prestigious charitable institutions.

The book about relationship management 'Managing Authentic Relationships 'He is sat at the table in a manner that a true economical regent should. He sits furthest on the left: alert, composed and self-assured. He is a board member, at the mayor’s request, of what we nowadays would call a food bank. These positions were honourable for rich citizens. Moreover, it was thought that wealthy board members would be less corrupt, or in any case would keep less money for themselves. Their pockets were already filled, that was the idea. The regents alongside Bol at the table demonstrate precisely why they are on this board: they are counting money. The motto is ‘show your virtues’. The painting is therefore a depiction of their skills, yet also an open application to more jobs, or perhaps even better jobs. The message is evident: ‘you can trust us’. It is a true testimonial. Of course, Bol knew this like no other. How many careers he had been able to lift with just one painting?”


Read other articles about the book Managing Authentic Relationships on our blog(s):
Managing Authentic Relationship is a book about relationship management and networking published by Amsterdam University Press:

A book about networking and relationship management

This post is also available in: Dutch

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply