Marvelous Miniature Mansions: 17th Century Dutch Dollhouses with Alette Fleischer

Marvelous Miniature Mansions: 17th Century Dutch Dollhouses with Alette Fleischer


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The must-have luxury object, which only the wealthiest of women in the seventeenth-century Netherlands could afford, was to have a dollhouse: a completely furnished miniature version of their dream house. Today, such a small-scale mansion can tell us about seventeenth-century interiors, their way of living, and the position (and power) of women in the Dutch Republic. This conversion will explore a careful curation of these Dutch dollhouses as we place them in the context of what was going on in this fascinating period of Dutch history.

Today, there are about seven dollhouses from the seventeenth-eighteen centuries in existence, mainly made in the Netherlands. These dollhouses were commissioned by only the richest of women, so they could showcase their vast wealth, their knowledge of culture, and their importance in society. We’ll discuss how the layout of the dollhouse reflected the ideal of living in a grand mansion: it was not an actual copy of their house.

But what can a dollhouse tell us? In short: many things. We can learn how a household was organized, what the focal point(s) of a house was, and the various household roles and responsibilities within (from the lady of the house to the staff, to the children). We’ll discuss how a dollhouse also showcased the importance of society and the personal wealth of the mistress herself. Some of the elements in the miniature house are very recognizable, however, some household goods are, for us today, completely alien. But, like the seventeenth-century house proud owner, we too like to have our homes filled with nice objects.

We’ll discuss how the Dutch trading networks enabled the women to adorn their cabinets with the most exotic and expensive objects, made from ivory, Japanese lacquer work, Chinese porcelain, silks, and Persian rugs, all made especially for these ladies. Humble household objects ranging from cooking utensils to ironing boards and linen presses entered the cabinets. The mini-mansion was occupied by small dolls: the master, mistress, and their children, as well as maids and servants.

So, come and explore this grand world in miniature; feast your eyes on all the precious and delicate objects while at the same time learn about late seventeenth-century Dutch households, the position of women, children, maids, and menservants. Led by an expert on seventeenth-century Dutch culture, Alette Fleischer, this interactive seminar will focus on costly dollhouses all the meanwhile admiring the art objects and learning about the Dutch way of living. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with an increased notion about what took place behind the close doors of Amsterdam’s grand canal houses.

Amsterdam-born Alette Fleischer has a degree in Art History and a PhD in 17th Dutch History, focusing on gardens, science, and technology. She has curated several exhibitions, publishes articles, presents lectures, and a proud Context Expert. For Context Travel, Alette has led the Rijksmuseum tours many times. Motto: staying curious is key for being a good historian.

This conversation is suitable for all ages

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

Customer Reviews

Based on 5 reviews
80%
(4)
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N
N.S.
17th Century Dutch Dollhouses with Alette Fleischer
T
T.
A
A.
J
J.
Great introduction to Rijksmuseum doll houses
M
M.L.

Customer Reviews

Based on 5 reviews
80%
(4)
20%
(1)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
N
N.S.
17th Century Dutch Dollhouses with Alette Fleischer
T
T.
A
A.
J
J.
Great introduction to Rijksmuseum doll houses
M
M.L.