Historical Documents of Amsterdam and The Netherlands

History of Amsterdam

Account of iconoclastic fury, 23 August 1566.  In the summer of 1566 the iconoclastic wars in Flanders spilled over into Amsterdam. In this diary excerpt, the Dutch Reformed grain merchant Laurens Jacobsz. Reael (1536-1601) describes how churchgoers wreaked havoc in the Oude Kerk (Old Church), causing considerable damage.

Amsterdam seen from the River IJ side, view of the city drawn by Pieter van der Keere, 1618. The River IJ and the open harbor, teeming with ships, presented a lively picture of 17th-century Amsterdam. A great many artists have depicted this view of the city. Around 300 views of Amsterdam seen from the River IJ have survived. One of the largest and most beautiful is the view drawn by Pieter van der Keere in 1618.

House for Joan Huydecoper, design by Philips Vingboons, 1639. The Amsterdam master builder Philips Vingboons and his brother Justus compiled a book of Philips’s most important designs all the most important buildings that Philips had designed. Afbeeldsels der voornaemste gebouwen… (Illustrations of the Principal Buildings…) appeared in two volumes in 1648 and 1664. This page shows the house on Singel near the Munt (Mint) that Vingboons designed for Joan Huydecoper of Maarsseveen.

The Binnen-Amstel, drawing by Jan van Call, second half of the 17th century.  Amsterdam is ‘the most extraordinary city in Europe’ and even surpasses Venice, wrote an English traveler in 1828. The comparison between Amsterdam and Venice is five centuries old, with people seeing similarities in the geographical location, the many waterways and bridges and the picturesqueness of the buildings, as well as in things like commercial power, status and wealth.

Willem II lays siege to Amsterdam, etching by Roeland Roghman, c. 1650. Etching by Roeland Roghman from c. 1650 of the siege of Amsterdam: soldiers of Stadholder Willem II stand near the horse ford by the bridge leading over the River Amstel to Oude Kerk, where Saskia, Rembrandt’s first wife, was buried in 1642.

The collapse of the St Anthonis Dike, etching by P. Nolpe, 1651. In the early hours of 5 March 1651 a severe storm, known as St Peter’s Flood, raged along the Dutch coast. That night it was also a full moon and a spring tide. Just outside Amsterdam, near the village of Houtewael, the dike failed in two places and the waters flooded with immense force into the low-lying polders behind it.

Fortifications near the Haarlemmerpoort, drawing by Jacobus de Lambre, 1672. A drawing made in 1672 by Jacobus de Lambre of the fortifications in the vicinity of the Haarlemmerpoort, showing the ramparts with bulwarks and gates.. The gate now standing in Haarlemmerplein was built a couple of years later. The ramparts, bulwarks, gates and draw-bridges surrounding the city formed massive fortifications that continued to serve their purpose for nearly two centuries.

The Golden Bend in Herengracht, colored print by Jan van Call, c. 1690. In 1662 work was begun on lengthening the important canal Herengracht, which at first ran only to Koningsplein, and extending it to meet the River Amstel. The new bend in Herengracht near Spiegelstraat immediately became the most fashionable part of the whole ring of canals. The great wealth of its inhabitants caused Amsterdammers to call this part of the canal the ‘Golden Bend.’

General Expansion Plan for Amsterdam by Cornelis van Eesteren, 1935. In the 1930s the future growth of Amsterdam was broadly laid down in Cornelis van Eesteren’s General Expansion Plan, first presented in 1934. Undergoing various modifications in the years that followed, it was the first urban growth plan to be created so systematically and researched so thoroughly.

Maps of Amsterdam

Amsterdam in vogelvlucht door Balthasar Florisz, 1625. In 1625 Balthasar Florisz van Berckenrode made this magnificent aerial map comprising nine sheets. Of all the large wall maps of Amsterdam made since the sixteenth century, this is the most detailed and the most reliable. Even the authorities were impressed: in 1625 the city bought sixteen copies for 300 Carolus guilders.

Book of maps of the estates belonging to St Pieters Gasthuis, 1627-1628. The book of maps is open at a bird’s-eye-view map on which all the buildings of St Pieters Gasthuis have been meticulously drawn. The hospital consisted of a large complex of buildings covering an area of some 250 by 150 meters between the River Amstel, Grimburgwal and Kloveniersburgwal.

Aerial map of Amsterdam by Gerrit de Broen, 1724. This aerial map was first published by Gerrit de Broen in 1724. The city’s characteristic half-moon shape had meanwhile been completed; starting in 1662, the principal canals had been extended from the Leidsegracht to the other side of the River Amstel. The main reason for enlarging the city had been the lack of space for shipyards, which in the 1650s had already prompted the creation of the islands of Kattenburg, Wittenburg and Oostenburg.

Amsterdam and its Citizens

Register of beggars, 1597-1598. Around 1600, Amsterdam experienced a period of unprecedented growth and prosperity. Successful traders and artisans came to the city, though they were far outnumbered by the hordes of poor people flocking to Amsterdam to seek work. Those unsuccessful in finding employment often turned to begging and stealing as the only alternative.

Register of purchased citizenships, 1584-1605. Starting around 1531, residents of Amsterdam could become citizens. Citizens had more rights than mere inhabitants. Citizenship, which could be acquired through birth or marriage, could also be purchased by those born outside Amsterdam. All citizens were listed in the register of citizens and given a certificate of citizenship which could be shown as proof of their status.

Civic militia Civic militias were connected with the defense of the city of Amsterdam, such as those appearing in Rembrandt’s painting “The Night Watch.”

The testament of Peter Stuyvesant, 1639. The testament drawn up in 1639 by Peter Stuyvesant, the famous governor of Nieuw-Amsterdam (New York). Written by the 30 year old Stuyvesant before his voyages, it was common practice to draw up a will before such a journey was undertaken.

'Casparis Barlaei orationum liber' book of speeches by Caspar Barlaeus, 1643. In 1632 Caspar Barlaeus became one of the first professors of the Athenaeum Illustre. This book, dating from 1643, contains the oration he gave on 9 January 1632.

Portrait of an elderly lady. The artist Johan Thopas of Zaandam did this portrait in gouache on paper around 1650-1660. The subject is an elegantly attired woman shown in a seated position.

Letter written by Oliver Cromwell to the burgomasters of Amsterdam, 1656. In this letter Cromwell asks whether the burgomasters would be so kind as to grant ‘our dear’ (dilecto nobis) Peter George Romswinckel an audience and to offer him help and protection.

Letter to the Burgomasters. This letter bears what is considered to be the oldest postmark in the world. The letter written on 19 November 1667 by the Rotterdam postmaster Jacob Quack to the ‘Burgomasters and governors of the City of Amsterdam’ was sealed with a wax seal. Remnants of sealing wax are clearly visible at the bottom of the letter.

Vondel’s funeral announcement. 1679- Vondel, a well-known write, is closely tied to Amsterdam. He wrote poems for the dedication of the Town Hall and the Athenaeum Illustre (the forerunner of the University), and the new Municipal Theatre was opened with a performance of his play Gijsbrecht van Aemstel. Vondel wrote verses for all manner of festivities involving Amsterdam and its people.

The life and times of Michiel de Ruyter, 1687. The chronicles of the voyages to the New World of a famous Dutch admiral.

Inventory of the estate of Jan Six. Jan Six was a fellow Amsterdamer, friend of Rembrandt, and subject of his art work.

Trade and Commerce in Amsterdam

Freightage contract between Arentssen van Leeck and Jacobssen and Emptinck, 24 March 1600. A freightage contract stated the name of the captain and the ship he would sail. Dirck Arentssen van Leeck, captain of the ship ‘De Pellicaen’, entered into this contract with the freighters Romboult Jacobssen and Eduwaert Emptinck, ‘merchants, living in Amsterdam’.

The Amsteldijk by the Bergenvaarderskamer, drawing by Claes Jansz Visscher, 1608. The ‘Bergenvaarderskamer’ on the River Amstel was originally the guildhall of the ‘Bergen skippers’, the captains and merchants who engaged in trade with Bergen in Norway. In the 16th century, the Bergenvaarders built their stone guildhall next to a farmstead on Amsteldijk 

Amsterdam seen from the River IJ side, view of the city drawn by Pieter van der Keere, 1618. The River IJ and the open harbor, teeming with ships, presented a lively picture of trade in 17th-century Amsterdam. A great many artists, including Rembrandt, have depicted this view of the city. Around 300 views of Amsterdam seen from the River IJ have survived. One of the largest and most beautiful is the view drawn by Pieter van der Keere in 1618.

The ferry of the Utrecht ‘Schietschuyten’, drawing by Andries Schoemaker, 1659. The schietschuiten (express ships) depicted here were intended for goods traffic between Amsterdam and Utrecht, but passengers could also make use of the services provided by these fast ships. From various places in the city there were ferry services to destinations in the Netherlands and abroad. This service made Amsterdam the principal junction in a network of scheduled boat services.

The glue works in Lange Bleekerspad, drawing by Allard van Everdingen, 1660-1665. The site around the glue works looks white. This is probably because of the lime that was stored in the pits. Glue was made using old leather, which first had to be treated with lime. At the end of the production process there were slabs of glue that were probably dried in the sheds and on the racks. Because of the stench and the water pollution they caused, glue works always had to be located well outside the city walls.

‘De Klock’ soap. Amsterdam’s soap works were producing high-quality soap as early as the 15th century. In the first half of the 17th century in particular, the soap industry was doing very good business indeed. The soap factory ‘De Klock’ was located in Wijdesteeg, near the Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal. 

How World trade, drawing by Adriaen van de Velde, c. 1671. These two drawings, made around 1671 by Adriaen van de Velde, portray four women who personify the four continents with which Amsterdam traded in the 17th century. On the left we see Asia, and Europa on a bull; on the right are Africa and America. The designs were conceived as decorations for a map of Amsterdam produced by Frederick de Wit, a cartographer, etcher and publisher of maps and prints.

To help ships across the Pampus shoals, etching by C. Meijer, c. 1672. Until the Noordhollandsch Kanaal was dug in the 19th century, large ships could reach the harbour of Amsterdam only with difficulty. The shoals near Pampus, a small island just in front of the harbor, were especially difficult to cross. In this print Cornelis Meijer offered a number of creative solutions to this problem, such as the forerunner of the ‘camel’.

Tsar Peter the Great with the completed VOC frigate Piet and Poul, drawing by Abraham Storck, 1697-1698. The Russian tsar Peter the Great (1672-1725) and his entourage arrived in Amsterdam on Sunday 25 August 1697. Peter the Great spent four months working at the Dutch East India Company (VOC) shipyard on Oostenburg on the East Indiaman ‘Peter and Paul’, which had been put on the stocks especially for him. Abraham Storck’s drawing shows three views of the completed vessel sailing on the River IJ.

The Weigh-house in Dam Square, drawing by Paulus Constantijn la Fargue, 1778. Until 1808, an important feature of Dam Square was the Weigh-house, where goods were weighed before being sold. A weigh-house with reliable scales was indispensable to a trading centre like Amsterdam. This was the site nearby where Rembrandt lived when he first arrived in Amsterdam.

Documents concerning trade with the United States, c. 1780. Jean de Neufville had already tried during the American War of Independence to negotiate a trade treaty with America. It had to be kept secret because the Netherlands was formally on the side of the British. With the support of the Amsterdam town council, he and the American envoy, William Lee, drafted a trade treaty in Aachen on 4 September 1778.

Fiscal Historical Documents Related to Amsterdam

Expenditure for the city swans, 1570, archives Thesaurieren Ordinaris. The oldest surviving Rapiamus – a register of the income and expenditure of the city government – dates from 1570. It is opened to the page showing the entry for the annual expenditure on the city swans.

Print announcing the lottery held to benefit the Lunatic Asylum, 1592. Advertisement This advertisement is for a lottery held to raise money for the extension of the Lunatic Asylum in 1592.

Register of beggars, 1597-1598. Vagrancy and begging were a huge problem at the end of the 16th century. The States of Holland and West-Friesland issued a decree on 16 December 1595 requiring beggars to have written permission from the sheriff. In 1613 begging was forbidden completely. Beggars were a subject found in several of Rembrandt’s prints and drawings.

Interior of the Commodity Exchange, print by A. A. Bolswert and M. Colijn, 1609. At the Commodity Exchange, trading was carried on in more than 400 different articles from the four corners of the earth. Posted on the pillars around the courtyard were the names of the cities and provinces with which trade was carried on, so that every commodity had its own stand.

Inventory of the estate of Hendrick Janszoon Cock, 1626. In 1606, when Hendrick Cock was 1½ years old, his mother remarried, at which time the settlement of his share of his father’s fortune was registered at the Orphans’ Chamber. Additional legacies were registered later, including a share in the Dutch East India Company (VOC) from the estate of his grandmother, Agneta Cock.

Agreement regulating trading in shares of the West India Company, 1629-1630. In 1629 and 1630, Isaac Casteleijn entered into agreements with Pieter de Bitter and Jacques Hack which required them to buy shares in the West India Company from him within one year.

The Paalhuis near the Nieuwebrug, drawing by Abraham Storck, 1679. Anyone sailing into the city from the IJ, past the double row of stakes that served to defend the city in dangerous times, came first of all to the Paalhuis. Here one had to pay harbour dues, which were levied on ships sailing from the North Sea to the Zuiderzee. The money was meant to defray the cost of maintaining signals (such as beacons and buoys) on the shore and at sea.

Booklet with rules for an illegal lottery held at the beginning of the 17th century. Booklet with rules for an illegal lottery held at the beginning of the 17th century. There is also a list of the prizes and the participants. A Latin text is printed on the cover of the booklet.

List of unpaid wages and inheritances of orphaned children in the service of the Dutch East India Company, 1724. Many boys from the Municipal Orphanage went to work on ships owned by the Dutch East India Company (VOC), which gave a percentage of their wages to the orphanage. This 18th-century list shows which boys from the Municipal Orphanage were serving with the VOC, and how much money from the boys’ wages was still owed to the orphanage. The list states when and on which ship the boys left port.

Map of New York with a list of parcels of land for sale, 1794. After the United States had gained its independence, wealthy Amsterdammers began to invest in the new country, buying land with a view to dividing it up and selling it. This is a map of New York with a list of parcels of land in the vicinity and their selling price, dated 31 December 1794.

Architecture in Amsterdam

Het Rondeel (The Roundel), c. 1600-1650. During the first half of the seventeenth century an unknown artist did this drawing of Het Rondeel (The Roundel), a half-round tower on the Amstel, where Hotel de l’Europe now stands. When it was built in 1530, Het Rondeel was the city’s major defensive bulwark.

Schreierstoren with the Hoofdbrug, c. 1620-1640. The Schreierstoren, built in 1487, is the only defensive tower still standing.

House for Joan Huydecoper, design by Philips Vingboons, 1639. The Amsterdam master-builder Philips Vingboons (1607-1678) was an important practitioner of Dutch Classicism, a building style that imitated classical architecture. Vingboons designed a great many houses in Amsterdam, successfully adapting the classical idiom to the tall, narrow canal houses

The municipal quarry on Keizersgracht, drawing after Barend Graat, 1652. In 1652 Barend Graat did this drawing of the municipal quarry, located on Keizersgracht between Leidsegracht and Huidenstraat. Here preparations were being made for the construction of the new town hall in Dam Square. Quellijn worked on his sculptures here, and the stone required for the building was also cut in the quarry.

Dam Square with the Town Hall and the New Church with the tower that was never finished, drawing by Jacob van der Ulft, 1653. In 1640 the city governors decided that the old Gothic Town Hall was too small and in a state of decay. The plans to build a new Town Hall were changed repeatedly in the following years. Some town councilors wanted to build a grand and monumental Town Hall, while others preferred a more modest design.

Keizersgracht with the Westerkerk (West Church), drawing by Jan van der Heyden, c. 1660. The drawing depicts the view across Keizersgracht towards Westermarkt with the Westerkerk. This building, which has since disappeared, served as a meat market and a guard post for soldiers.

The Regulierspoort, as depicted in the 1663 ‘Historical Description of the City of Amsterdam’ by Olfert Dapper. The Regulierspoort, as depicted in the 1663 ‘Historical Description of the City of Amsterdam’ by Olfert Dapper, published by Jacob van Meurs. The book recounts the history of Amsterdam and the surrounding villages, and also contains descriptions and illustrations of a large number of buildings in the city.

Reguliersdwarsstraat during extension towards the northeast, print by Abraham Bloteling, c. 1664. The print shows Reguliersdwarsstraat during construction towards the northeast.

The ring of canals between Leidsegracht and Binnenamstel, reproduction of a drawing by Jacob Bosch, 1679. More and more people came to live in the prosperous city of Amsterdam in the late 16th and early 17th century. The expanding population made it necessary to undertake a large-scale extension project, begun in 1613 and taking the next 60 years to complete, which entailed constructing a ring of canals around the old city centre.

The Golden Bend in Herengracht, colored print by Jan van Call, c. 1690. The new bend in Herengracht near Spiegelstraat immediately became the most fashionable part of the whole ring of canals. The great wealth of its inhabitants caused Amsterdammers to call this part of the canal the ‘Golden Bend’.

Religion in Amsterdam

Witch Trial: Sentencing of Meyns Kornelis of Purmerend, 1555. Comparatively few witches were burned at the stake in Amsterdam. One of the last unfortunate women to meet this fate was Meyns Cornelis, a maidservant from Purmerend. In late February 1555 she was condemned to death for witchcraft and making a pact with the devil, as recorded in this book of judgments.

Letter written by Calvin on 24 May 1557. The archives of the Walloon (French) Church in Amsterdam contain a letter written by the Genevan reformer Calvin on 24 May 1557 to the Reformed congregation of Emden. Calvin offers his condolences to the congregation, which had just lost a prospective minister to Frankfurt.

Testament of Lijsbeth Cornelis Bruntendr. In this testament dating from 1565, the wealthy Lijsbeth Cornelis Bruntendr made bequests to family and friends. She also left money to churches, convents and charities, in the hope of ensuring her salvation. This testament is a window into how citizens of the 16th century worked to ensure what they believed would help them “spiritually” after their death

The exodus of the Catholic magistrates and clergy on 26 May 1578, print by Jan Luyken. A 1680 print by Jan Luyken of the exodus of the Catholic magistrates and clergy on 26 May 1578 in Dam Square

The ban against Spinoza. On 27 July 1656, Spinoza was banished from the Jewish community because of ‘terrible heresies’. The ban against Spinoza is recorded in the Escamoth, the register containing the resolutions and regulations of the Jewish community Talmud Tora, which was formed in 1639 through the merger of three existing communities.

Keizersgracht with the Westerkerk (West Church), drawing by Jan van der Heyden, c. 1660. The Westerkerk, the church where Rembrandt’s funeral took place and which was designed by Hendrick de Keyser, was built between 1620 and 1638. The church stood in the middle of the newest extension to the city, in a square in a bend between two canals (Keizersgracht and Prinsengracht). The trees lining the canal were still young when Jan van der Heyden made this drawing of the church around 1660.

The Portuguese synagogue, Waterlooplein, etching by Romeyn de Hooghe, c. 1686. This print depicts the impressive façade of the synagogue of the Portuguese-Jewish Congregation Talmud Torah, which means Study of the Law. The synagogue was on Waterlooplein at present-day numbers 131-167. It was used until 1675. The print made by Romeyn de Hooghe dates from after that time.

The organ in the Westerkerk (West Church), drawing by Jan Goeree, c. 1700. In 1680 the Amsterdam civic authorities decided to allow organ music during the Reformed service. Two years later Roelof Barentsz Duyschot and his son Johannes were commissioned to build an organ for the Westerkerk. The beautifully decorated organ was first played on Christmas Day 1686. Around 1700, Jan Goeree depicted the organ in a print, for which this drawing served as a preparatory study.

View of the Portuguese and High German Jewish Churches, etching by Abraham Rademaker, 1752. From the 17th century onwards there were two Jewish communities in Amsterdam – the Portuguese and the High German. Each had its own synagogue.

Children in Amsterdam

Eyewitness account of an orphanage disease in 1566 and 1567. The first page of an eyewitness account of the curious events of 1566 and 1567, as recorded by the grain merchant Laurens Jacobsz Reael (1536-1601). The original, dating from c.1580, has been lost. This excerpt, which dates from c.1600, was found in the archives of Marquette House.

Drawers from the Orphans’ Chamber, 17th century. This is the register of the Municipal Orphanage containing the names of the children admitted. It dates from around 1630. The page edges of the book are decorated and display the earliest depiction of the inmates of the Amsterdam orphanage in their uniforms. The two orphans, a boy and a girl, stand either side of the city coat of arms.

Law and Order, Crime, and Civil Unrest in Amsterdam

Convicted for singing the Wilhelmus, 31 December 1574. When the Dutch revolted against the authority of the Spanish king and the Catholic Church in the second half of the 16th century, William of Orange became the self-appointed champion of Protestantism. The Wilhelmus was written to give courage to the Protestant adherents of the Prince of Orange, called the geuzen. The Wilhelmus has been the Dutch national anthem since 1932. 

Edict issued by the city of Piacenza prohibiting any contact with Amsterdam, 20 November 1663. Amsterdam was ravaged by bubonic plague several times in the otherwise flourishing 17th century. Members of Rembrandt’s family succumbed to it. Almost 25,000 people, more than ten percent of the population of the city at the time, died during the last serious outbreak in 1663-1664. In 1663 fear of contagion led the city of Piacenza to bar people who had been in Amsterdam from entering the city. On 20 November 1663 a ban on contact with Amsterdam was proclaimed in Piacenza.

Documents concerning the defrauder Rutger Vlieck, 1657-1673. These documents from the archives of the Exchange Bank concern the large-scale fraud perpetrated by the bookkeeper Rutger Vlieck.

Fire in Amsterdam’s old Town Hall, print by Jan van der Heyden, 1690. Jan van de Heyden invented the fire hose and, as fire chief, he put it to use for many years. He wrote a book about his invention, which he illustrated himself. This page shows people fighting the fire in the old Town Hall in Dam Square in 1652.

Ceremony for the prayer to be said before carrying out a death sentence, ceremony book, 18th century. Death sentences were pronounced with great ceremony in the High Court of Justice. At first this court was convened outside, in the open air, in a place enclosed by four benches. In the 17th-century Town Hall, now the Royal Palace in Dam Square, the High Court of Justice was on the ground floor, and the public could watch the proceedings from the square.

An executioner’s bill for services rendered, 17 December 1746. Corporal punishment was quite common in the 18th century. For heavy-duty torture and execution work, Amsterdam availed itself of the services of the provincial hangman from Haarlem, who traveled to Amsterdam on the day the sentence was to be carried out and was paid afterwards for his services. The bill presented by the executioner for the work he did on 17 December 1746 has survived.

Harnesses used to hang up thieves broken on the wheel, drawing by Simon Fokke, 1764. The mutinous crew of the VOC ship Nijenburg were given the death sentence.

Sports and Leisure Activities in Amsterdam

Farm on Diemerdijk, drawing after Rembrandt, c. 1604-1660. Even seventeenth-century Amsterdammers needed fresh air and a bit of quiet from time to time. Rembrandt occasionally left his painting studio on the busy Jodenbreestraat for a brisk walk. During one such trip he sketched a small farm on Diemerdijk (Diemer Dyke). This is a studio copy of an original drawing by Rembrandt, now in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.

Kostverloren House, drawing by Claes Janszoon Visscher, 1607. The castle-like house of Kostverloren on the River Amstel was an attractive subject for artists. Kostverloren, a recognizable spot on the River Amstel, was a source of inspiration both to painters such as Rembrandt and to men of letters.

The Amsteldijk by the Bergenvaarderskamer, drawing by Claes Jansz Visscher, 1608. The ‘Bergenvaarderskamer’ on the River Amstel was originally the guildhall of the ‘Bergen skippers’, the captains and merchants who engaged in trade with Bergen in Norway. In the 16th century, the Bergenvaarders built their stone guildhall next to a farmstead on Amsteldijk.

The new maze ‘In the Orange Pot’, 1620. Seventeenth-century Amsterdammers had their amusement parks, too. This is an advertisement for the ‘Orange Pot’, complete with illustrations of the many attractions of this maze. Its charms are enthusiastically extolled: ‘Art lovers, come and see these new works, which will delight you more each time you visit!’ The major attraction was an ingenious fountain designed by Jonas Bargois. This print dates from 1620.

Gysbrecht van Aemstel, a play by Joost van den Vondel, 1638. Joost van den Vondel’s Gysbrecht van Aemstel is probably the best-known play in Dutch literature. Vondel wrote the piece to mark the opening of the Amsterdam Municipal Theatre in 1638. This copy of the play was sent by post from Utrecht to J. A. Alberdingk Thijm in Amsterdam at the end of the 19th century. The book is addressed and postage stamps have been affixed to it.

On the road to Slooten, drawing by Claes Jansz Visscher, 1639. At the beginning of the 17th century, artists started to devote more and more attention to the Dutch landscape. One of the first was Claes Jansz Visscher (1587-1652). By the age of twenty he had begun to draw landscapes which he later published as prints. In addition to being a talented draughtsman and etcher, Visscher was an important publisher of prints, maps and topographical views. He made this drawing of the road to Sloten in 1639.

Kolf course behind the Stadlander Inn, drawing by Nicolaas Aartman, 1755. The game known as kolf was very popular in the 18th and 19th centuries. Nicolaas Aartman’s drawing depicts the rear of the Stadlander Inn. There is a considerable crowd. Behind the inn there are two kolf courses, where men with kolf clubs are completely absorbed in the game. The spectators’ boxes, numbered 1 to 10, are on the right-hand side of the field of play. Several ladies are present.

Celebrations and Special Events in Amsterdam

Anatomy book of the surgeons’ guild, 1656. This book of records from the 17th and 18th century is kept in the archives of the surgeons’ guild. It is open at the page which says that on 28 January 1656, Jores Fonteijn van Diest was hanged, after which his body was used in the anatomy lesson given by Dr Joan Deyman. A similar theme relates to Rembrandt’s work “The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Tulp.”

Fireworks pavilion in the River Amstel to honor Tsar Peter the Great, drawing by Isaac de Moucheron, 1697. In August 1697, Tsar Peter the Great visited Amsterdam with a Russian entourage. On 29 August the burgomasters honored the guests with a banquet, followed by a display of fireworks, a popular entertainment.

Government bond issued to cover the expenses incurred during the visit of Peter the Great, 1698. To defray the cost of the visit to Amsterdam of the tsar and his Russian entourage, the board of merchants trading with Russia borrowed 50,000 guilders. To facilitate repayment of the loan, the States General authorized them to charge an extra ½ percent on all goods sent to and from Russia.