P.C. Hooft and the Golden Age

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Pieter Cornelisz. Hooft, Jürgen Ovens (?) after Joachim von Sandrart, oil on canvas, second half of 17th century
In the first half of the seventeenth century, Muiderslot was the official residence of the writer and poet Pieter Hooft. Hooft’s father was a merchant and the mayor of Amsterdam. Pieter was more interested in literature and history, the arts and science. His position as bailiff (baluw) of Gooi and sheriff (drost) of Muiden left him a lot of time to indulge his passions. The collection of furniture, utensils and jewellery in the rooms decorated in seventeenth-century style along the route of the guided tour give an impression of Hooft’s lifestyle in the castle. The collection of paintings has the same effect and also includes numerous works with references to seventeenth-century theatre and Hooft’s historical works.

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Vanitas still life with the title page of Pieter Hooft’s play Geeraerdt van Velsen, oil on canvas, second half of 17th century
This painting brings together the castle’s two most important residents. Their enduring fame is contrasted with the transient nature of life. A violin string has snapped and the eyes in the bust crowned by a laurel wreath are broken. In the middle stands Hooft’s play Geeraerdt van Velsen, in which he describes how the noblemen settled scores with Count Floris V.

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Sky globe, G. and L. Valk, approx. 1700
During the seventeenth century, the ships of the VOC and the WIC travelled around the world and Amsterdam became the centre of cartography. Hooft was a nephew of the famous map makers Willem and Joan Blaeu. The sky was also mapped. Globes of the earth and the sky like these were (and still are) loved as evidence of worldly learning. Pieter Hooft also had his portrait painted with a globe.

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Coenraet Decker, The Castle and the town of Muiden, copper engraving, 1673
In the seventeenth century, Muiderslot still retained its military function. However, more important than the castle’s defences in repelling foreign invaders was the typically Dutch practice of flooding low-lying land. This method of inundation was used to defeat the French troops of Louis XIV. To show the defensive structures more clearly, the castle itself is not shown on this map. Only the ‘speelhuis’, which Hooft probably used as his study, can be seen in the foreground.

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Roemer, blown and moulded glass, 17th century
A roemer is a drinking glass and wine drunk from glasses like these must certainly have tasted sweeter. People ate with their hands so their fingers became greasy and slippery. The blobs of glass (or ‘prunts’) on the stem provided a better grip. Roemers like this also had another social, more artistic, function. Hooft and his friends would engrave the glasses with decorative patterns and sayings and present them as gifts to one another.

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Johannes Mijtens, Double portrait of a young couple as Granida and Daifilo, mid-17th century
When the war ended and the country outside the cities also became safer, country living became extremely popular. The wealthy built summer houses and commissoned portraits of themselves as hunters or sheperds. In literature, pastoral plays were also popular. This young couple have been painted as the main characters in Hooft’s play Granida.

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Document declaring the knighthood of Pieter Cornelisz. Hooft, signed by Louis XIII of France, parchment, 1639
The Republic of the United Netherlands was a state in which citizens were given a lot of power. Pieter Hooft was the first constable of Muiderslot who was not a member of the nobility. At the time, many prominent citizens did seek titles and had to approach a foreign ruler to secure one. Pieter Hooft was awarded his French title as a reward for his biography of King Henry IV of France.