Verheven als het Huis des Heeren

02 november 2011

Bijdrage van: Kuyper

Verheven als het Huis des Heeren

Dit artikel is in het Engels gesteld, de Web-master en ik zullen zo gauw mogelijk de bijbehorende illustraties toevoegen.
Indien er vraag naar is zal ik een Nederlandse samenvatting geven. Maar hoe dan ook zullen allereerst de illustraties met de Engelse onderschriften in Kuyper's Kroniek worden geplaatst, vervolgens zullen Nederlandse onderschriften er bij worden gevoegd, die hier al volgen op de Engelse Captions to Illustrations voor de addenda bij het artikel. 

                         LOFTY AS THE HOUSE OF THE LORD

 

                                   WOUTER KUYPER  

 

    Balancing between Secular and Divine Power in the Dutch Republic, 1618-1631

Several decades ago at Leyden University Henri van de Waal propagated an iconological approach to the study of the arts. His ideas resulted in fruitful research by many scholars, in Holland especially in the field of 16th- and 17th-century painting, engraving and etching. It is a pity that this approach is scarcely found in the study of the architecture of the period. A case in point is the oeuvre of the sculptor and architect Hendrick de Keyser (1565-1621), notwithstanding many publications on his work, among them a recent “jubilee-book” of the Hendrick de Keyser Society (which ownes and restores many, mainly secular buildings of De Keyser’s time).[1]) Speaking for myself I regret not having been able to bestow more attention on him in earlier publications, but their focus being on the main trends of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in the Netherlands, there was little scope for the architecture of De Keyser, which is transitional between Dutch Mannerism and Classicism. Completing the iconological method with the political and religious background leads to an interdisciplinary view which sheds new light on Delft Town Hall, toppling long-accepted interpretations.

     It has been a pleasure to find fascinating layers of meaning and relevant Palladian derivations in plan and elevation of De Keyser’s Delft Town Hall, as well as the in the dimensions of its Hall-of-the-Citizens. Equally interesting but an unpleasant surprise rather than a delight was the realization that political vicissitudes had spoilt the execution of the original bold and confident design. Luckily Hendrick de Keyser’s design for the intended façade was preserved and published ten years after his death.

     Reconstruction of Vitruvius’ Basilica of Fano and a more modest Basilica 

Andrea Palladio (1508-1580) drew several reconstructions of the classical basilica, especially the one at Fano, which would have a lasting influence on Renaissance architecture. The Basilica of Fano had been built by Vitruvius and described by himself  in his work on building and architecture that survived the Middle Ages. As soon as the printing press divulged the work (the “Ten Books of Architecture”) the Basilica of Fano was shown in elaborated wood-cuts. Palladio’s reconstruction for the edition of  Daniele Barbaro (1567) was one of the more well-researched ones, yet in some respects less plausible than the 1521 reconstruction of Cesariano, which was strongly influenced by Bramante’s churches in Milan. Vitruvius’ description is succint, the great appeal of Fano to the humanists was its combination of a civic hall with a temple (purportedly dedicated to the deified Augustus). Barbaro interpreted the plan as a transverse city-hall or basilica in which only the entrance to the pronaos of the Temple is situated, so that the longitudinal Temple protrudes with closed, inarticulated walls into the direction of the Temple of Jupiter in the middle of the great square which lay behind the Temple of Fano. Bramante and Cesariano thought that such a big dead body could not be found in Vitruvius’ words. Cesariano shows a square plan in which both Temple and Basilica are contained. (Ills. 1, 2, 3) Cesariano’s is an ingenious superposition of a cross-shaped temple, of which only the tribunale projects, over a square basilica.

Moreover, his temple-cross is higher than the basilica’s room so that the cross is expressed in its elevations which show a grand semicircular window emphasized by a semicircular moulding over it.

     Palladio was architect to the town of Vicenza, a Venetian possession on the terra ferma, whose nobility, even more than Venice herself, was bent on avoiding all Papal interference in religion and government. It is interesting to see how Palladio working for his learned patron shows the façade of the complex of Civic Hall and Divine Dwelling as a completely closed wall save for an insignificant entrance in the middle with nothing to indicate that this Hall, the basilica proper, is hiding a Temple.

     In the plan we note that the most important part of a classical structure, the load-bearing columns, are all in the inside, dividing the transverse hall in a high galleried part, a nave, and low aisles. The nave has a length of seven bays, in depth it measures three bays which are slightly wider, so that the columns enclose a space with the beautiful dimensions of 1 to 2. The height is not harmoniously integrated in this whole, being less than twice the depth. An awkward intrusion into the beautiful scheme is the suppressing of two of the giant Corinthian columns of the nave to make room for a passage to the portico of the Temple. This entrance has a Temple-front with four Corinthian columns in antis, considerably smaller than the giant ones of the basilica, so that Palladio even finds space to arrange a wide pediment over them, all under the roof of the basilica. It is a theme Palladio would return to in his Venetian churches, most strikingly so in San Giorgio Maggiore where the chancel is screened off from the choir by columns which are smaller than those applied to the church room itself. 

    Within the rectangular form his Temple of Fano is closed by a round, raised space which is called “il Tribunale” as if it were a seat of justice, which was one of the usual functions of a civil basilica, but not of a Temple, whereas the room itself is referred to as the “tempio d’Augusto”. In classical times a tribunale was the place for magistrates’ seats, in Christian times there may have been seats for the elders of the church. The portico in front of the Temple is a rather uncertain room with side entrances wedged in between Civic Hall and Sanctuary. In Barbaro=s Latin edition it is called the “Pronaos”, in the Italian one the “Antitempio”. As we shall see, surprizing and extremely unusual, the Delft Town Hall has in its plan clear imitations of Palladio’s reconstruction of the Basilica of Fano.

     The general, more modest, form of a basilica, which Barbaro shows first, does not possess these beautiful dimensions and shuns the august colossal Corinthian columns. Instead it has Doric for the lower gallery and Ionic for the upper one. 

     Palladio’s Quattro Libri (1570) contain classical examples as well as many of Palladio’s palazzi and ville and his most important civic work in Vicenza, the transformation of the great old City Hall into a dignified classical building, appropriately called the Basilica. To that end the high Mediaeval hall, a loftily roofed longitudinal square, was enveloped in two tiers of very plastic open arcades, the lower one of the Doric order, the upper of the Ionic one. The whole was covered by a long roof which is domed at the two longer as well as the two short sides and the transition from baroque arcades to the flowing curve of the smooth roof is effected, seemingly without effort, by an elegant balustrade. 

     The dimensions are as harmonious as the conversion of an existing building allows, the higher core having three bays at the short sides and seven at the longer ones and the new galleries extending to five and nine bays. Both façade and plan are given in Palladio’s oeuvre, so that every architect of standing in  Europe knew what a tremendous stone work was being executed. The civil pride of the Vicentine kept funding the enterprise until at last in 1617 the building, which was started in 1549, was completed.

                      Old Privileges and the harsh political Realities

Since two conspicuous buildings in Holland and England burnt down within two years after the finishing of Palladio’s basilica all attention in the Anglican Kingdom and the Calvinist Republic  was focused on the formulation of a Protestant idea of the basilica and its application to a solemn hall in an own classical idiom, distinguishing the Righteous North from the Catholic South. In England Inigo Jones brought the Banqueting House (begun in 1619) to a more than Vitruvian perfection when he designed a double cube (giving the room the ratio of 1 : 2 : 1). We may reconstruct a double cube at the Delft Town Hall too, but owing to later alterations we are afraid of falling short of exactly knowing the original dimensions.

     On 4 February 1618, less than a year after the completion of the Vicentine Basilica, the Town Hall had been destroyed by fire.[2]) This meant a calamity for the average-sized town which with every means tried to maintain the important role it had played in the first years of the Dutch Republic.William the Silent, the leader of the rebellion against Spain, had chosen Delft as the site of his modest but Princely Court and had been murdered there in 1584. His son, the Stadholder Maurice, preferred the Hague as his residence to be near the executive and judiciary bodies which housed at the Inner Court in the centre of the place. Secretary to the States was Johan van Oldenbarnevelt with whom Maurice first cooperated smoothely, yet becoming increasingly antagonistic to this most influential civil servant who doubted the wisdom of prolongating the war with Spain.

     Holland has been praised again and again for its freedom of thought and tolerance of several religions, but we must make the proviso that it was through the lens of autocratic regimes like the French monarchy or the Holy See. And subversive ideas printed in Holland were nearly always in Latin or French, accessible to a small élite only.

    In fact at the beginning of the seventeenth century Holland felt its own repercussions which seen in European perspective are parallel to the tightening of the rules in the Catholic countries after the Council of Trent. The orthodox faction in the Calvinist Church (which more and more got the character of a state-church) stabilized its position and enhanced it by means of an international synod which convened in the city of Dort from 1618 to 1619.[3]) It became soon apparent that the most conservative ministers from the Netherlands, Geneva, Scotland, England and several German towns and states had a majority and would enforce their strict, oppressive rule.

     In the meantime at Delft, in the Great Church, opposite the Town Hall on the Market Square, Hendrick de Keyser’s funeral monument for William the Silent was nearing its completion. It had been ordered by the States General in 1613 when the States still could ignore the growing influence of Count Maurice, the military commander of the Republic. Notwithstanding their admiration for William I , the “Father of the Fatherland”, they stipulated for this lavish monument tokens and symbols that underline William’s function as a Stadholder : being the first servant of the States but not invested with Princely Power, let alone the power of a King. As a magistrate the Prince would be flanked by statues of Liberty and Justice, whereas the “throne” of his sitting statue as a Field-Marshall had to have five steps, one less than the Bible allows for Solomon’s throne.

     For the rebuilding of the Town Hall the States granted a subsidy and after a contest Hendrick de Keyser’s design was chosen as early as 28 April 1618. It was a splendid design, fully Renaissance, with strong leanings to the Classicism that would become en vogue a few years after Maurice’s death in 1625. Moreover it was in an clear, overtly republican vein, underlining the town’s liberties and judiciary priveliges. The work was finished in 1620, sadly by others who deviated from De Keyser’s iconological content. We shall explain the reasons for the changing which were mainly political. There had been some ominous portents. From about 1600 Maurice lived with Margaretha van Mechelen as what at the Court in Versailles would have been called the maîtresse en titre of the monarch. She stayed with him at the Inner Court and he had three sons with her who got preferential treatment over his other bastards. Prudently he did not marry her since she was a Catholic and about 1610 they separated. She remained at the Hague, dying there many years later.

     The Synod at Dort has been mentioned. The Contra-Remonstrants, the conservative group, had the majority in the Calvinist Church, but the more lenient faction, the Remonstrants, was deeply entrenched in the town-governments of Holland and Utrecht, among them the cities of Amsterdam and Leyden. To protect themselves the cities hired bands of soldiery, the Remonstrant Burgomasters of Leyden erecting a small fortification in front of the Town Hall to protect them from the populace which was incited by the Contra-Remonstrant ministers.

    In the midst of this turmoil Hendrick de Keyser’s Town Hall design asserts the privileges of the Town of Delft. William the Silent’s motto “quiet among the billowing waves” might be applied to it. Soon after it was chosen the political events escalated. In June 1618 Maurice effected a coup d’état. He started in Utrecht where he personally disbanded the city’s soldiery, thus protecting himself from the east. He acted quickly having Johan van Oldenbarnevelt arrested in August and going on disbanding the cities’ military and “purifying” their governments. Oldenbarnevelt got an unfair trial and was beheaded in 1619.

              The Architectura Moderna on Hendrick de Keyser=s oeuvre and Jacob van Campen’s Coymans House

Hendrick de Keyser died on 15 May 1621, his 56th birthday. More than a quarter of a century, starting in 1595, he had been Amsterdam’s sculptor and architect. His most important designs were well kept and published in the city in neat engravings in 1631, years after Maurice’s death. In this collection, appropriately titled Architectura Moderna, we find his intended façade for Delft and it pays due attention with many plates to the three great Amsterdam churches – Zuiderkerk, Westerkerk and Noorderkerk, all three still standing and recently restored.[4]) Whereas the bigger Zuiderkerk and Westerkerk are of the traditional longitudinal type with nave and arcaded aisles, the less representative parish church, the Noorderkerk, has a novel centralized room.                                                                                                                                                Surprisingly, and in itself rather Mannerist, is that renewed study of the latter church with its plan of a cross superposed over a smaller octagonal,[5]) reveals that it is one of the few, if not the only Dutch building to whose façades the rules (or quirks if one prefers) of Italian Mannerism would apply. It was Jan Terwen, Van de Waal’s assistant in Leyden, whose excellency was precisely the application of the international Mannerist art terms to architecture. His lessons are not yet heeded in the description of the Noorderkerk. Here the attention is drawn to it to mention yet another facet of the versatile artist Hendrick de Keyser was – combining stylistic elements of various periods the church may be regarded as Mannerist in its overall aspect as well. Salomon de Bray, the editor of the Architectura Moderna, who also wrote the theoretical introduction, notes the Classicist appearance of the central crowning ornament. He bestows the highest praise upon this cupola-turret, writing that it is “matelijck”, the Dutch rendering of the Latin concinnitas, a term derived from the rhetorica where it stands for “well-balanced, all the measurements having the right relations to one another”.[6])  

     There is an apparently incongruous addition to the Architecture Moderna, with the even more remarkable comment by Salomon de Bray that “whosoever had visited Amsterdam and not seen the beauty of this house does not understand anything at all of the beauty of Amsterdam, yea, not even anything at all of Architecture.” (Ill. 4.) It was Coymans House, the first house in the Dutch Classicist style, designed by Jacob van Campen. I must confess that I have longtimes considered Van Campen’s house a strange intrusion in the collection, thinking of a propaganda stunt by the publisher intent on advertizing Jacob van Campen under the cloak of Hendrick de Keyser. Renewed study of  Delft Town Hall, though, convinces one that there is more Classicism in the works of the older artist and a greater continuity between the elder and the younger man than generally admitted. The influence of Inigo Jones’ Banqueting House on the façade of Coymans House has been established;[7]) and the right interpretation of the plan of Coymans House shows that the insertion among De Keyser’s oeuvre, in particular his Delft Town Hall, is a revendication of De Keyser’s Palladian intentions in the plan and elevation of that edifice as well as in the dimensioning of its Great Hall.

     Apart from Amsterdam, in the Architectura Moderna Delft has the main place with engravings of its Town Hall and William the Silent’s Tomb respectively. Amsterdam as the greatest commercial town of the Republic was not sympathetic to religious intolerance, and six years had been enough for the city government to conclude that Frederick Henry, the youngest son of William the Silent and successor as Stadholder, was lenient enough to grant the City more liberty in religious affairs. Already in 1629 the Remonstrants built a big “concealed” conventicle, and other denominations in Amsterdam followed suit, the Lutherans and the Portuguese Jews even with rich elevations on the road. The other towns were more cautious, Delft had its first hidden Remonstrant church in 1638 whereas Leyden, once famous for resisting a long Spanish siege, stayed long ultra-Calvinist : its first Remonstrant conventicle was only built in the 1660s, the first Synagogue in 1731, and after 1618 the University was “purified” from subversive elements like Catholic and Remonstrant professors.

     Immediately after the solemn abjuration of Philip of Spain as Overlord of the Netherlands in 1581 there had been a feverish activity in building and rebuilding new, free, republican town halls. The great example had been Antwerp’s Town Hall (1564). That Hall, the design of which was approved by Philip’s Brussels Court, was an amazing amalgam of the Classical style symbolizing the rule of the central government and the Mannerist equivalent for the old privileges and traditions of the City. An enormous gabled centrepiece resembling an inflated guild-house is flanked by rather severe, Italianate wings. In the centre-piece itself, which is reserved for coats-of-arms, statues and other symbols, here both for City and Central government, the symbols vie with each other – and have been replaced by others according to the political mood of the moment. In the gable are niches with the statues of Prudence and Justice. The building should be high and imposing, and the result is that the original building had little depth and an utterly awkward plan. To make the centrepiece the grander there are two nearly identical Halls over each other between whose functions it is difficult to differentiate.

    In the free Northern Netherlands, at Bolsward Town Hall (1616), the high gabled centrepiece remains, but the building is the first where the great ceremonious hall rises through several stories. Apart from the elevation’s sculpture wrought with iconological content we should mention the pretension of keeping to the old Germanic rite that Justice was meted out in the open air. Most Dutch Town Halls complied by having a very wide window before the “Vierschaar” (the Bench of Justice, mostly situated in de great hall), shutters in front of openings, or even, like in Bolsward, openings without glass-panes or shutters at all.

     The striking feature of Hendrick de Keyser’s design for Delft is his resolute replacing of a gable by a straight attica over the centre bays containing to the (heraldic) right a niche with the statue of Temperance (or Prudence) symbolizing the wise deliberations of Burgomasters, in the centre the Holland Lion (who should stride to the right, the engraving is, as often happened in the

seventeenth century, reversed), and to the heraldic left Justice with her sword as the executioner of Burgomasters’ Judgment by the hand of Sheriffs. (Ill. 5.)

    The design is an accomplished statement from which Hendrick de Keyser would not deviate, it is only a proposal in that sense that Burgomasters could choose between channelled Ionic over smooth Doric pilasters or smooth Ionic pilasters over blocked Doric ones – a choice that in an iconological meaning would change little to the graceful Ionic, which in the Republic was considered the order representing Freedom, over the sturdy Doric which represented all valiant ideas – so here it would represent the victorious Dutch forces in the Eighty Years’ War against Spain. Happily this civilized use of civilized orders of modest height was also the sequence of the orders of Barbaro’s more humble basilica and Palladio’s Vicentine basilica.

     About the Twelve Years’ Truce (1609-1621) it might be noted that it gave ample opportunity for internal strife and the settling of old accounts. So 1618, 1619, were critical in view of the necessary concord to start the War against Spain again.

    Burgomasters of Delft would have asked those of Amsterdam to have their town-architect work for them and notwithstanding the changed execution (invalidating the beautiful ratio of the Ionic pilasters by sheathing them in strapwork-ornament with diamond-knots and, worst of all, the mentioned changing of the attica into a gable with only one Virtue, Justice) the official version was and remained that the famous architect of Amsterdam, who as a sculptor designed William’s Tomb, was the architect of the Town Hall. Its fame, especially its elevation in brilliant white stone, outshone every new Hall in Holland, until of course, as the first topographer of Delft, Dirck van Bleywijck, noted a little ruefully in 1667, Jacob van Campen’s Amsterdam Town Hall was built, outshining all the Town Halls in Holland.

                    Maurice supreme commander 

The Delft Burgomasters were caught by the rapid dealings of Prince Maurice. They not only had chosen De Keyser’s design because is was to their liking, representing their ideas and was sumptuous enough, but also to bestow on their City Hall all the renown it would acquire as the work of the famous Amsterdam sculptor and architect. But to all likelihood De Keyser also had supplied the design of Johan van Oldenbarnevelt’s house at the conspicuous Kneuterdijk in the Hague. To their annoyance the attica of that house bore some striking similarities to that of the Town Hall they just started to build. The house has been rebuilt “beyond redemption” [8]) and the only representation which is more or less reliable is a slanting one from about 1750, but the main lines are clear : this high Mannerist house of 1611 is topped by a straight attica with statues in its two aedicula’d and pedimented niches. (Ill. 6.)

     Flattery to the country’s advocate had to be replaced by flattery to Maurice, the more so since Maurice, on the death of his older brother in 1618, had become Prince of Orange. The Magistrate had their local masons and stonecutters change the whole façade, and in their fear of Maurice decidedly overdid their job. In the engraving we notice over the entrance-archway another archway. This led to the small execution-platform over the entrance, which could be extended by a timber scaffolding in front of the building. This highly ceremonial execution-platform was only used for important offenders, trivial offenders were simply hung on the gallows outside the city walls. The town had the right of capital judgment and this privilege, arrogated from or granted by the Counts of Holland, was carried out by beheading or hanging. To the latter end there are shutters still higher in the elevation through which a beam could be pushed. The right of capital punishment was emphasized by the great coat-of-arms of Delft, held by lions, whereas the wipping up of the architrave over it and the flanking by Corinthian pilasters are symbols of the power of the city government.itrave over it and the flanking by Corinthian pilasters are symbols of the power of the city government.8a) 



[1]. See section 4, The architrave that is elevated over the middle as touchstone of the understanding of Hendrick de Keyser’s work, in Addendum II, where is pointed out that Delft had an alliance with the town of Oudewater whose Town Hall showed a similar elevation of the architrave over the entrance.

     In the end the arms were replaced by an enormous coat-of-arms of Prince Maurice, all the more flattering and strategical as it was put up right in front, as it were, of William of Orange’s Tomb in the choir of the Great Church, whilst it was pretty sure that the States General would never again erect such a monument to a Stadholder. Counts of Nassau, Princes of Orange, Stadholders or, since 1815, Kings and Queens of the Netherlands, they all are buried in the crypt beneath William’s monument that is adorned with William’s coat-of-arms. 

     The reducing of the attica was damaging in particular. Hendrick de Keyser was only allowed to sculpt the statue of Justice, a fine creation that is still in the gable. The Corinthian pilasters as expression of worldly power could remain, whereas Temperantia’s statue, symbolizing the prudent judgment of Burgomasters, was suppressed and Justice, now placed over Maurice’s arms and under the Holland Lion, stood for both the executive power and judgment of the Counts of Holland to whom the right of capital punishment originally belonged. In the Church William the Taciturn, the bronze sitting Field-Marshall in the Monument, is modestly placed between two bronze ladies who represent (at his right hand) the Freedom of the Republic, whereas the statue at his left is usually said to represent Justice since she keeps a balance in her right hand. But her other hand just idly rests on her hip without clutching an instrument to execute justice. When we take her for carefully deliberating Prudentia, we are struck with the contrast with the Town Hall Justitia, who has the executive sword in her right hand and the prudent balance on the left – inflating again Maurice’s importance. This extreme flattery to Maurice – de jure Maurice of Orange was the obedient servant of the States of Holland which in 1581 had acquired all the prerogatives and rights of the Counts of Holland – would have reassured Delft’s town government. And pushing the Holland Lion high upward through the highest pediment of their elevation they obscured from view the coats-of-arms of many of their predecessors as Burgomasters hung from the precious core of their Town Hall, the high Keep of the Counts of Holland. These arms were those of the Magistrates of the session 1566-’67, right before the years when Delft sided with William of Orange.[9]) They knew that the Keep was still the ultimate sanctuary of which could be said that all power had been derived.   

    It was a wily stratagem. Both the derivation of the overall plan and the harmonious dimensions of the Hall-of-the-Citizens eluded architectural historians.Their histories started and ended with Georg Galland’s exhaustive and epochale description of Dutch 16th- and 17th-century sculpture and architecture which appeared in 1890. Galland remarks : “It is only Hendrick de Keyser’s Town Hall which ushers in the splendid spatial show of the architectural creations of  Classicism.” [10])

     The starting point of the Delft plan had been Palladio’s reconstruction for Barbaro of Vitruvius’ Temple at Fano. This was the interlocking of a basilica, here the Hall-of-the-Citizens (like the great rooms in the Dutch Town Halls both a civic hall and a seat of jurisdiction), and a Temple, which was, as stated above, said to be dedicated to the Emperor Augustus. (Ill. 7.)

     The elevation was a Mirror of Good Government, reflecting the interior like the titlepage of a book reflects the contents (there were numerous Bibles which showed episodes of the Law and the Gospel in their frontispieces) – the ratio 1 to 2 is found back in the façade. Even more strikingly the Doric and Ionic pilasters of the exterior reflect the superposed stages in Palladio’s reconstruction of the modest basilica. The entrance from the Basilica of Fano into Augustus= Temple passing four Corinthian columns is mirrorred in the four Corinthian pilasters of the attica. These were retained in the execution. Retained, also, were the twin obelisks on top of the façade which in a tortuous way Christianize, at least de-paganize, the classical-humanist elements of the frontispiece, since they might be considered to represent the pillars Jachin and Boaz which had stood in front of Solomon’s Temple. 

     Taking into account the desire to emulate Palladio and the evidence of closed and open shutters in 17th- and 18th-century representations leads to the conclusion that an unlucky reshaping in the 1830s put a floor in the space of the Hall-of-the-Citizens that originally ran over two storeys in height.

    Like at Palladio’s Basilica at Vicenza the columns of the classical example are brought to the outside. At the rear of the Hall-of-the-Citizens with its smooth walls is the five-arched Doric arcade of the Bench of Justice, like in Fano we notice the five openings to the portico of the Temple. In Delft the Tribunal was in the middle, the outer arches led alongside an open courtyard to the rooms of the city-government, of which the Council of Forty, in theory the highest governing body, occupied the Keep as a sort of Holy of Holies.

     The Hall was behind the middle five bays of the elevation, the floor had a ratio of 1 to 2 and the height to the roofing would have equalled the depth, so that the room up to the cove had the ideal dimensions of a double cube. Presumably there were lunettes behind the windows of the second tier that stuck into the cove. In the lower parts of these windows there are shutters only in old engravings and paintings, so here too the pretence was kept that Justice was meted out in the open air. (Ill. 8.)  

    That the Hall emulated in these harmonious relations the Palladian-Vitruvian examples eluded the attention of modern art-historians since Galland. They kept searching for the place of a staircase that, as they surmised, led to an Upper Hall over the Hall-of-the-Citizens.[11]) And yet there were enough Renaissance examples of high halls. There was the Hall of the Estates at Dort where at the very moment that Delft was begun the Synod convened, and, of far more importance, there was the Great Hall of the Orange-Nassau Palace at Breda with a large segmentally coved ceiling in which the highest windows of the façade cut like lunettes – as there were lunettes in the Dort Hall. Breda dated from 1536 and its chapel opened in the middle of the long rear wall of the Great Hall, so there we find an allusion to the interlocking system of Fano long before Barbaro’s publication.[12])

      Yet what else could have been the aspirations of the Delft government than emulating the just completed Basilica at Vicenza? To take another example: when Inigo Jones started his Banqueting House, his Basilica, in 1619, he too aspired to the beautiful relations of the classical renaissance, even improving the ratio of his room into that of a double cube. To be closely informed about what had happened in Delft he passed over the King’s Master Mason and had Nicholas Stone execute the capitals of the elevation. According to John Summerson they had something of the Mannerist weirdness which may occur in Hendrick de Keyser’s works – after all Stone had been an apprentice of Hendrick de Keyser and had married his daughter Maria. And one might point out that Jacob van Campen first followed Hendrick de Keyser with a “simple” basilical hall in Coymans House at Amsterdam and, twenty years later, for his Town Hall followed Inigo Jones in having the classical orders applied as well to the exterior façades of the building as to the interior elevations of this great, basilical, Hall-of-the Citizens.

                                     Time reveals Truth

As referred to above it was with a certain amazement that I found Jacob van Campen’s Coyman House included in the Architectura Moderna – in 1631, as well as in the second edition of 1641.  It is represented in the book with two engravings on one sheet, giving the plan and the elevation.(Ill. 4 ).

     But just having studied Hendrick de Keyser’s Delft Town Hall again, I must concede that Danckerts had cogent reasons to finish his story on Hendrick de Keyser’s oeuvre with this juvenile work by Van Campen, that not only shows the influence of the Banqueting House (as often noticed) but is also a careful reworking of two of Hendrick de Keyser’s examples, redeeming Galland’s observation of 1890.

     The examples are the Delft Town Hall and, strikingly, the much earlier house of the jeweller Hans van Wely (1605, engraving in the Architectura Moderna) whose façade, at first sight, is a Mannerist affair that would not appeal to the Classicist Van Campen. But in this latter case facts of patronage concur. Balthasar Coymans was also a wealthy merchant and collector of paintings and both men wished to receive their clientèle in a sumptuous hall, situated like the traditional voorhuis of the Amsterdam merchants immediately behind the façade of the house. Both wished to keep to the classical rules and both wished to show off their wealth. Lely did it by having a completely stone elevation, even inlaid in different colours, unusual for a private dwelling, with high cross windows. He was murdered by robbers and Coymans preferred to show his wealth in the interior of his house rather than advertizing it thus glaringly.


     Even in recent publications one finds the assertion that the plan of Coymans House as given in the Architectura Moderna does not fit the elevation.[13]) Yet one only has to understand that the level of the section is changing in height so that this ichnography shows the two entrances (it was a double family-house) as well as the windows. A cellar story was added much later but was not planned and did not exist in Coymans House : the great reception room (to the right, the staircase in it was built by others before Van Campen was asked for a design) tends to be a double cube of which the high windows gave much light for a collection of paintings and ample room for little cabinets with precious stones that should not be visible from the outside.

     Hans van Wely’s house may have had a high voorhuis in the form of a simple cube, and the exterior refers in some points to Coymans House : the architraves of the orders run uninterrupted over the front and the cornices are scarcely interrupted, pointing forward both to Delft where the cornices are completely straight, and to Coymans House where all entablatures with architraves, friezes and cornices are straight and smooth and uninterrupted.

     Coymans House was built in the same year that Maurice died. Apart from being revolutionary in style it embodied a revolutionary spirit that declared itself free from the artistic dictaat (to use a Dutch word) that fear of Maurice had brought people to use old, Mannerist, forms which they thought would be to his liking. Moreover, Maurice’s quarters at the Inner Court had a conspicuous tower (it is still there, at the western corner) with a straight balustraded platform on top, which nobody sought to emulate.

     A case in point is Hendrick de Keyser’s Westerkerk, which faces Coymans House with its important east façade. Contrary to the Noorderkerk, which was quickly built, mostly when De Keyser was still living and which got straight, balustraded elevations, the Westerkerk, the bigger and more prestigious church, was not ready when Hendrick de Keyser died. Both the gables of nave and transepts and the tower were changed after 1621. Danckerts gives the original version of the tower (in the end a decidedly more Baroque concept was followed), but could not lay his hand on Hendrick de Keyser’s solution for the gables. According to a small indication on a bird-  -eye’s map of 1625 the project would have resembled more the mathematical Noorderkerk solution than the not very comely gables which were constructed and which detract from the full force of the colossal Salomonic pillars Jachin and Boaz which frame the elevation. (Ill. 9.) [14])

    The place of Coymans House was excellent for a rich merchant. Its Hall was Lofty as the House of the Lord, though compared to the soaring mass of the Church at the other side of the canal with its principled pillars, it looks quite modest. Whether Coymans House had already been altered in the 17th century or not, the first known description after De Bray’s, by Melchior Fokkens in 1662, is full of praise: “the exceedingly large house of Coymans, a house like a church in its aspect, in it are magnificent large halls adorned with paintings of great value and other decorations”.[15])

      It may not come as a surprise that Jacob van Campen honoured Hendrick de Keyser as well by sticking in his façade to the same harmonious relations as in Delft: the two pilastered storeys show the same ratio of 1 : 2 as De Keyser had given to the Doric and Ionic of his Town Hall.

      If local craftsmen did spoil De Keyser’s Delft façade by concessions to Prince Maurice, it still announces the interlocking system, and, as to their extraordinary plan, Burgomasters did not make any concessions at all. They also preserved the main religious and civic symbols of the original design. These are derived from Breda Palace like they – if necessary – could point out to Count Maurice who, sheer coincidence, had inherited the Palace and the title of Prince of Orange in the same month of 1618 in which the Town Hall burnt down. In Breda Palace we notice that the architect, the Italian Vincidor da Bologna, pupil of Raphael, had solved Vitruvius’ problem of satisfyingly interlocking a transverse hall with the entrance of a chapel, announcing at the same time in a more Northern tradition this internal disposition in the centrepiece of his façade.

     Two significant details of the Breda façade are taken up again in Delft, and, surprisingly used as well by Van Campen in his Amsterdam Town Hall. The first is the placing of round-headed windows over rectangular ones in front of one room, the great civic hall, the other is the positioning of sculpted cherubim on the elevation. The latter symbolize the most ritual, religious aspects of Justice : Burgomasters emphasized that the ultimate source of Justice was our spiritual Lord.

     The patron of Breda had been Henry III, Count of Nassau and first councillor to the Emperor Charles V, who as Stadholder of Holland had been popular, lenient and reluctant to execute Charles’ severe measures against the Lutherans. In his Palace the cherubim were placed in small gables on top of the elevation, in Delft in the upper frieze. In his City Hall Jacob van Campen put the cherubim in the frieze of the Tribunal over the capitals like one finds them in Alberti’s “Tempio Malatestiano”.[16])

      In Delft, in approximating the Fano plan, Hendrick de Keyser stresses the interlocking of religious and profane elements. Delft’s lofty Hall and surprising plan remained a closed book for the authors of architectural history. The present article centres on De Keyser’s mature and well-considered concept. He had attained a measured fusion of antique precedent and old traditions and in doing so stylistically leaving behind the indigenous Mannerism of his youth and reaching out to the new generation of architects. His concept is infused with a Renaissance spirit whilst carefully balancing old traditions against a more severe Classicist style. 

Notes 1-16:

1) Koen Ottenheym, Paul Rosenberg and Niek Smit, Hendrick de Keyser Architectura Moderna Moderne bouwkunst in Amsterdam 1600-1625,  Amsterdam, 2008.

2) Reconstructions of the plan in J.J.Terwen, “Het Stadhuis van Hendrick de Keyser”, Delftse Studiën, Assen, 1967, pp. 143-70, and A. de Groot, “Het Stadhuis van Delft”, Bulletin KNOB, 1984, pp. 1-42. The first serious description of the built Town Hall was given by Dirck van Bleyswijck, Beschryvinge der Stadt Delft, 1667. For background information about history, religion and the arts in Delft see De Stad Delft, Cultuur en Maatschappij, Vol. II, 1572-1667, Delft, 1981.

3) King James favoured Maurice, pushing for the Synod to be held and bestowing the Order of the Garter on Maurice already before it started. Friendly communication by Jeremy Dupertuis Bangs, cf. his Strangers and Pilgrims, Travellers and Sojourners. Leiden and the Foundations of Plymouth Plantation, Plymouth, Massachusetts, (2009), e.g. pp. 191 and 526-7.

4) Cornelis Danckerts van Seevenhoven (publisher and ed.), Architectvra Moderna, etc., Amsterdam, 1631.

5) In Barbaro’s Fano there is more emphasis on the temple-part by the simple entrance to the basilica and the complete, pedimented temple-front. Yet it remains a reversal of Cesariano’s values where the main stress is on the religious aspect. It would be clear that for his Noorderkerk Hendrick de Keyser found more inspiration in Cesariano than in Barbaro. Even Palladio seems to feel some doubt about the reconstruction which he himself would have drawn. In his Quattro Libri dell’Architettura, which appeared in 1570, the same year in which Barbaro died, he is somewhat disingenuous, writing that he won’t show the Basilica of Fano since the most reverend Daniele Barbaro had given it with extreme diligence: « Con altri compartimenti fu ordinata da esso Vitruvio una Basilica in Fano, laquale per le misure, che al detto luogo egli ne dà; si comprende, che doveva esser un edificio di bellezza, e di dignità grandissima; & io ne porrei quì i disegni, se dal Reverendissimo Barbaro nel suo Vitruvio non fossero stati fatti con somma diligenza ». (“The same Vitruvius designed a Basilica in Fano with other proportions, that by its measurements which he gives in the said place (Barbaro’s edition), gives one to understand was a beautiful building and having the greatest dignity; and I would give its designs here if it were not for the most Reverend Barbaro having made them in his Vitruvius  with the utmost diligence”. I Quattro Libri, Libro Terzo, pp. 38-40). 

6) Alberti uses concinnitas, cf. Anthony Crafton’s rendering: (having) “the possession of such harmonious and mutually complementary parts that nothing could be added to or removed from it without spoiling the whole” in his Leon Battista Alberti, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2002, p. 287. In Holland we meet it again a decade later when Orlers, the Leyden topographer, in describing Arent van ’s-Gravesande’s Marekerk uses it for the very Classicist cupola-lantern.

7) Salomon de Bray, a Roman-Catholic, painter and architect himself, was the theorist of Dutch Classicism. It was enthousiastically and decisively supported by a convinced Calvinist like Constantine Huygens, an erudite man of letters and diplomat who, understanding its theory and becoming secretary to the Stadholder Frederick Henry (who succeeded Maurice in 1625), occupied a pivotal place in the Hague to propagate Classicism. He served on an embassy to London and would have admired the Banqueting House. It had been an extremely long and difficult sojourn, the King envisaging to marry his son to the Spanish infanta; Huygens was secretary to the embassy. He wrote to his parents that he had seen all King James’ palaces, so he would have visited the Banqueting House. A few years later he considered Hendrick de Keyser’s son Thomas worthy to paint his portrait as Secretary to the Stadholder. Hence the wonderful portrait with the mediaevally raking floor now in the National Gallery. Like all Hendrick’s sons Thomas did not have the genius of his father, not following his idiosyncratic, maybe to them rather masonic theories. Nor could he cope with the Classicists, and hesitating between becoming an architect, a painter or a sculptor ended his life as a stone-dealer.

8) Sir Nicholas Pevsner (who is without doubt in Heaven), will excuse me when I borrow his expression.

8a) See Addendum II, Section 4, The architrave that is elevated over the middle as touchstone of the understanding of Hendrick de Keyser’s work,where it is pointed out that Delft had an alliance with the town of Oudewater whose Town Hall showed a similar elevation of the architrave over the entrance.



9) A. de Groot, “Het Stadhuis van Delft, aspecten van zijn bouw- en restauratiegeschiedenis”, Bulletin KNOB, 1984, pp. 1-42, p. 4. Incidentally they were the Magistrates who by transporting seven or eight great altar-pieces by Maerten van Heemskerck from the Church to the Town Hall saved them from destruction by the Calvinist iconoclasts of 1566. Miraculously the paintings were spared as well by the all-devastating fire of 1618. For a sad turn in their history see Addendum I.

10) « Nur das Delfter Rathaus H. de Keyzers leitet bereits den raeumlichen Aufwand der Bauschoepfungen des Klassicismus ein ». Georg Galland, Geschichte der HollaendischenBaukunst und Bildnerei, Frankfurt am Main, 1890, p. 188.

11) They may have been misled by an early estimate that reckons with a second hall on the first floor. Published by J. Soutendam, “Een Oud Bestek”, Bouwkundig Tijdschrift, 1885, pp. 31-7. The fire had consumed less than was pretended – the new rear entrance dates from 1618 and the three big rooms at that side would soon have been repaired.

12) Bolsward has been mentioned. In the engraved predesign for Flushing (c. 1594) we find the intimation of a high Hall over two storeys. Cf. W. Kuyper, The Triumphant Entry of Renaissance Architecture into the Netherlands, The Joyeuse Entrée of Philip of Spain into Antwerp in 1549, Renaissance and Mannerist Architecture in the Low Countries from 1530 to 1630, Leyden, 1994, pp. 242-3 and plates 368-9 (Flushing); p. 246 and plates 375-9 (Bolsward). Cf. the Addendum. 

13) See the Addendum.

14) The pillars are mentioned in 1 Kings, 7, 13-22.

15) The italics in the translation are mine, the Dutch runs (Fokkens, 1662, p. 71) : « het overgroote vermaarde huys van Koymans, een huys gelijck eeen kerck in ’t aenzien, hierin zijn heerlyke groote zalen, met kostelyke schilderyen en andere vercierselen verciert ».

16) It might be added that the two storeys of rooms around the Vestibule in Delft echoed illustrations of Solomon’s House of the Lord in Calvinist Bibles printed in Geneva and Lyons in the 1560s, giving (according to 1 Kings 6 : 6-7) rooms in several storeys around the Vestibule and the House. In Amsterdam the cherubim are on the Bench of Justice. (See plates 84-5 in Fremantle, 1959).

Captions to Illustrations   

Ill. 1. Vitruvius’ Basilica at Fano according to Barbaro’s Vitruvius, 1567. A – Basilica, B – Tempio d’Augusto, C – Antitempio, D – Tribunale

Ill. 2. As ill. 1. Façade of Basilica and section of Basilica with façade of the Antitempio.

Ill. 3. Cesariano’s Reconstruction of the Basilica at Fano from his 1521 Como edition of Vitruvius. Transverse nave with ratio of 1 : 2.

Ill. 4. Jacob van Campen, façade of Coymans House, Amsterdam, 1625. With the plan in one engraving; the section of the plan on two levels to show the windows as well as the entrances. Architectura Moderna XLIII, 1631.

Ill. 5. Hendrick de Keyser, design for Delft Town Hall, 1618. Reversed engraving, Architectura Moderna XXXVII, 1631. The indicated height is 40 feet (the Rhineland foot was only fractionally larger than the English foot); the distance between the centres of the outer pilasters is 80 feet. The flap represents the front of the entrance portico.

Ill. 6. Oldenbarnevelt’s House on the Kneuterdijk, the Hague. Drawing by Cornelis Pronk, c. 1750.

Ill. 7. Reconstructed plan of Delft Town Hall in 1620. Full colour: following Barbaro’s Fano, incorporating the Keep of the Counts of Holland. Hatched: complementary parts to make it function as a Town Hall. The highest governing body, the Council of Forty, had its Hall in the Keep (AA), Burgomasters’ Room was to the right of them (BB), Sheriffs’ Room to the left (CC). The Bench of Justice was behind the central three arches of the screen, a painting of Solomon’s Justice hung on its rear wall. According to Bleyswijck the screen had eight columns when summing up the amounts of whole and half-columns. (Author).

Ill. 8. Delft Town Hall. Cross-section of the Great Hall with high coved ceiling within still existing framework. Corbels with sculpted arms of Burgomasters in visible position. The cove may have echoed the vaulting of Breda Palace. Darker parts of the façade after Architectura Moderna XXXVIII, lighter top of gable as executed. (Author).

Ill. 9. Hendrick de Keyser, East façade of the Westerkerk, Amsterdam. As executed with changed gable after De Keyser’s death in 1621. The Ionic pillars have capitals extravagantly crowned with multiple ornament to come close to the capitals of the pillars Jachin and Boaz as described in the Bible. Detail of Architectura Moderna XII. The importance of the pillars is also attested to by enlarged details of the Salomonic capital in a following print.

Wouter Kuyper is an architectural historian living in Leyden, the Netherlands. He is the author of Dutch Classicist Architecture and The Triumphant Entry of Renaissance Architecture into the Netherlands. He is recently working on Dutch church-architecture of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.


Addendum I. Travellers enchanted by an Instrument of Correction <

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