Dolls houses

The Rijksmuseum has three dolls houses that provide a detailed view of how affluent houses were once furnished. The most famous was collected by the wealthy Petronella Oortman of Amsterdam. In the 17th century, dolls houses were not toys; they were a hobby, the equivalent for women of the collection cabinets kept by men.

What makes Petronella Oortman’s dolls house so unusual is that all the pieces were made precisely to scale, in the same way and using the same materials as their regular counterparts. Petronella ordered her miniature porcelain from China and commissioned cabinetmakers, glassblowers, silversmiths, basket-weavers and artists to furnish her dolls house: an extremely expensive hobby. Her dolls house cost as much as an actual house on a canal! She was so proud of her house, that she had it portrayed in a painting.

The second 17th-century dolls house, which belonged to Petronella Dunois, contains ready-made furniture, including a large amount of miniature silver. In the third dolls house, made in the 18th century, it is the exterior which is especially interesting: rather than built as a cupboard, it is actually a model of a real house.



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