Doll Houses at the Rijksmuseum

When I visited the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, I came across a room that housed three doll houses. They each were a piece of art in themselves, because the amount of detail showcasing the wealth of 17th century affluent inhabitants was just incredible. 

These miniature homes often showed rooms that guest would not visit.

Doll houses were not made for children to play with, rather the were a sort of hobby. What makes the Petronella Oortman's dolls house so unusual was that each piece was handmade to scale. This collector ordered her porcelain from China and commissioned cabinet makers, glassblowers, silversmiths, basket weavers and all sorts of skilled laborers and artisans to recreate the items you would find in a home. Her hobby was such an expensive one, that with the money she spend on lavishly decorating her doll house, she could have purchased a real house on one of the streets overlooking the canals in Amsterdam. 


Each house presents a glimpse into a Dutch household of the upper class. The focus lies on the world of women and directs attention to life behind the scenes, in attics, cellars and kitchens. A popular scene was the lying-in chamber, complete with mother and newborn baby. 

Custom Painting of Petronella's Doll House

Petronella loved her doll house so much that she even commissioned an artist to paint an oil painting of her house. I think she must have been an incredibly vain person. How could one spend so much money on a doll house when that same money could have helped the poor and probably put a real roof over a little child's head!

Often even the exterior of a house was replicated in minute detail. Talk about a true conversation piece!

Exterior of a Dutch Doll House

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