Monday, August 18, 2014

Utrecht House

In my continuing study of dolls houses, we have been studying the
dream dolls houses. While they cost mega bucks to create and are very
beautiful to the eye and would be a dream to own they are not
practical houses. We are now going to study replicas of the houses
real people live in. These houses give us a peek into the lives of
the people of the era in which the house was created. However these
houses were created by the well to-do, as they were the ones with the
money to have them created. There are very few dolls houses of the
common people of any past eras.

Utrecht House. The Utrecht House was built some time between 1674 and
1690 for Petronella de al Court (1625 – 1707) of Amsterdam, Holland. 
It was considered very fashionable in that day for a woman of means to
have these splendid handsome cabinets built and then fit them with the
most fashionable furniture and accessories they could afford. These
houses were not made for children, but rather for ladies in the
highest social circles. The importance of the Utrecht House is that it
gives a snapshot into the home of the well to do of the time. The
Utrecht House is located today in the Central Museum in Utrecht, the
Netherlands where it has been located since 1866.
There are eleven fully furnished rooms in the house
consisting of some1, 600 miniature objects and is inhabited by 28
dolls. All the dolls are dressed in the latest fashion of the day.
The first room is the Art Room that the owner displayed
replicas of the very best treasures of the day. Displayed there is a
table with a top carved from amber inlaid with ivory. There are many
east-Asian miniature porcelains displayed in a glass door cabinet. 
Many paintings in guilt frames signed by many notable artists of the
day lining the walls. A chest of drawers of wood and ivory marquetry
is filled with items made of ivory and silver. On the mantle above
the fireplace sits an ivory Mercury surrounded by a fragile set of
ivory plaques representing the Passion of Christ. Three gentlemen
dollhouse dolls repose in this beautiful room, the host at home in a
silk dressing gown and slippers. The other two men are wearing street
clothing including a hat and walking cane.
There are six wooden straight chairs with upholstered backs
and seats lining the walls on each side of the room. There are two
large pillows on the floor, one with a cat asleep on it. Also in the
room are several small tables with small items on them. 
The next room in the house is called the lying in room. 
There is a large fireplace with a mantle above at one end of the room.
The furniture is made of ivory, which gives a stark contrast to the
dark wood paneling. On the right hand of the room is a blue and white
porcelain display. There are carved picture frames and delicately
carved panels dramatically framed in black. There are many ivory
statuettes on a high shelf above the bed. The dolls in this room are
a new mama and an elaborately dressed baby, a visitor and two female
The next area is a small crowded study where the master is
seated at a table filled with a ledger, invoices and accounts. He is
attired in a silk dressing gown and holds a real quill miniature pen
in his hand. Behind him on a high shelf sits coils of tobacco and a
basket filled with pipes.
We now enter the kitchen. Dutch dolls houses of the
period combine assorted scales, miniaturized utilitarian objects and
priceless art. A cook is seated in a small wooded chair. Behind her
are small doors leading to the storeroom and water closet. Miniature
tools, pots, pans, and fire irons are crafted in silver, part of a
tradition that continues in the Netherlands. There are dusters and
brushes hanging beside the fireplace. Across the room is a small
spinning wheel and large washtub. On a shelf to the right is
priceless hand blown glassware. The mantle is crowded with blue and
white dishes, some made of porcelain and some of glass. A wooded
saltbox on the rear wall dates to 1682.
In the dolls house laundry are three dolls neatly dressed
as maids. The furnishings of the room include large brushes and
delicate wicker baskets. There is a rack hung from the ceiling on
which to dry linens. There is a trestle table and silver irons. When
the laundry is finished it is loaded onto trays and baskets. These
small scenes of life are invaluable in giving glimpses of the people
Most Dutch dolls houses of this period had a ground floor
room representing a garden. There is a board fence. In the garden
are fruit trees and a heavily planted flowerbed. To tend the garden
is a rake and wheelbarrow. There is a large trellis in the center.
On the top floor is a small linen room. A maid is filling
her basket to take downstairs.
In many ways this house is like the modern homes of
today. We use many of the same housekeeping utensils and tools. The
laundry basket is still much in use today as are dishes, pots and pans
brushes etc.
Below is a web site to the Centraal Museum in Holland
where the Utrecht house is located.

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