Roland Holst was a professor and director of the Rijks Academy in Amsterdam, and one of the most prestigious artists in Holland. Strongly influenced by William Morris, his work was highly personal and featured flawless craftsmanship. He executed only sixteen posters, nine of them for the theatre, where he often designed stage sets and costumes. None of the sixteen were for a commercial product.
Raden van Arbeid is one of the most sparingly elegant of Dutch posters. The subject matter - the worker - was an important one to the deeply moralistic, Symbolist artist. A devout Socialist, he believed in the dignity of the worker and the vital role of the labor boards to protect him. Rampant inflation and unemployment in the years following World War I made this a central social issue.
Roland Holst portrays the worker as an archer, who focuses on accomplishing the task of his employer. He is fully surrrounded and protected by a decorative wall - the labor board - whose "ramparts" consist of "widows' and orphans' funds," "old age and disability pensions," "preventive measures," and "social security."
As simple and restrained as this poster appears, it is actually the most colorful of Roland Holst's sixteen posters. It is the only one to have more than black and one other color. One can only speculate that its comparatively bright palette relates to his exalted feelings for his subject.