European Decorative Arts and Sculpture
Room from Het Scheepje (The Little Ship)Made in Haarlem, Netherlands, Europe
Early 17th century
Artist/maker unknown, Dutch11 feet 6 inches x 16 feet 5 inches x 24 feet 7 inches (350.5 x 500.4 x 749.3 cm)
1928-66-1Purchased with funds contributed by Edward W. Bok, 1928
LabelOne of the finest secular rooms surviving from the Netherlands of the early seventeenth century, this room was originally located in the back of a house called Het Scheepje (The Little Ship), part of a brewery compound on the River Spaarne in Haarlem. The house may have been built by Dirk Dirick, a former skipper who was documented as its resident in 1612 and later became a successful brewer and a member of the town council.
The room resembles the immaculate interiors depicted by Dutch painters of the period and would have been used for both living and sleeping (the paneled wall contains a bed-alcove behind the red curtains). This arrangement was common in even the prosperous households of the day.
The focal point is the imposing fireplace, which features sandstone columns with figures of David and Judith, each holding the severed head of their vanquished foe (Goliath and Holofernes, respectively). As unlikely heroes who with divine help triumphed over stronger adversaries, these biblical figures can be seen as symbolic of the northern Netherlands, whose political and religious independence from powerful Spain was recognized in 1609. The fireplace tiles show children at play, boats, and birds.
The ornamental elements of the oak woodwork on the mantlepiece and adjacent wall- the carved pilasters and masks and the inlaid ebony or ebonized wood-are of the sort popularized by late-Renaissance books of printed designs and decorative patterns.
The furniture is of the same period as the woodwork while the floor is a modern replacement. The eighteenth-century stained-glass windows come from another building.
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