Kardahsians of the 17th Century Showing Off


A Rolex watch, a Ferrari, designer clothes, your own indoor swimming pool… 
For centuries people have used their wardrobes and homes to show off their status in society. ‘The 17th century had its own rules,’ says historian Luitgard Maassen in a lecture given in a magnificent historic house in Leiden.
Looking at Johannes Vermeer paintings will never be the same now that we know this.



Blue Delft was sort of a must. Or blue  or white porcelain from China, which was even better.
Since the Chinese didn’t want to share their secret recipe for porcelain in the 17th century, Dutch craftsmen started producing their own in Delft.
Blue Delft however is earthenware, not porcelain. Luitgard explained how to tell the difference: if porcelain is damaged, you see a white base layer. If a chip comes off Blue Delft, you will see a  brown earthenware layer.



Genre painting by Johannes Vermeer

Genre paintings, showing every day life scenes, are a good way to discover trends and how people displayed their wealth by wearing certain clothes and decorating their homes.
Paintings on the wall, marble floors, big mirrors and velvet curtains were required elements in the trendy interior of the 17the century.
As well as lots of linnen (very important as a trousseau) and good quality walnut furniture, all handmade of course and lasting a lifetime.

Persian carpets were popular too both for keeping you warm on a cold day and for showing off. These carpets were quite expensive however, so after a while people started to use them as  tablecloths instead of putting them on the floor, to avoid wear and tear. The Dutch are probably the only nation to use the carpets this way says Luitgard:



Gerard ter Broch, 1665

In the 17th century the elite dressed in the best quality black woolen cloth, adorned with precious white lace.
Fortunately fashion changed, these hats didn’t last very long.

Gerard ter Borch, ca. 1663




The next lecture on Art, Clothing & Interior will be on October 27th, 2020.
At the same location Rapenburg 6,  a beautifully restored historic house in the old town of Leiden where several Princes William of Orange resided.
They offer house tours,  private dining and other festive facilities can be arranged at request. www.rapenburg6leiden.nl  



A preview of the magnificent historic house Rapenburg6

If you are lucky – like we were – you may be able to enjoy your coffee in the magnificent garden!


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