Jacob Appel, ‘The doll’s house of Petronella Oortman’, c. 1710
Seventeenth-century doll’s houses were not children’s toys, they were a hobby for ladies, comparable to the cabinets in which gentlemen kept their collections. This is one of three seventeenth-century doll’s houses that have survived intact. It was commissioned by Petronella Oortman, a wealthy Amsterdam lady. The house is remarkable in that all of the components are made exactly to scale. Petronella ordered miniature porcelain objects from China and commissioned furniture makers and artists to decorate the interior. It was extremely costly to create a model house like this. Petronella probably spent between twenty and thirty thousand guilders on her doll’s house. In the seventeenth century she would have been able to buy a real house along one of the canals for that price.
In the seventeenth-century, Dutch doll’s houses looked like cupboards, not houses. This one resembles a cabinet; a cupboard set on legs, with doors. The cupboard originally had curtains. This can be seen in a painting that was made of the doll’s house around 1710. The painting shows that the interior of the house has remained much the same. The main difference being that the house in the painting is inhabited by more than twenty dolls, made to scale. Only one baby doll has survived. Two of the rooms were altered slightly during the eighteenth century: there used to be a garden beyond the entrance hall, and the tapestry room was once shrouded in mourning.#Petronella Oortman #doll's house #paintings #interior_design