Ceiling paintings (1684) by Johannes Voorhout et al. in Trompenburg, Graveland.

Decorations in the country home of Admiral Cornelis Tromp.

In addition to their city residences, Amsterdam elites in the seventeenth century also richly decorated their country homes with paintings. The decorations in the country home of Admiral Cornelis Tromp (1629-1691) and his wife Margaretha van Raephorst (1625-1690) are an impressive example of this practice. The building, which consisted of a rectangular main building connected by corridor to an octagonal domed hall, was erected at the location of the former country house De Hoge Dreuvik, which was demolished by the French in 1672.

Figurative ceiling paintings have been preserved in two representative rooms located on the bel-etage of the main building, one of which signed by Johannes Voorhout (1647-1723) in 1684. Two other ceiling paintings are presumably lost; all that remains in their case are the architectural frames which once held the canvases. In addition the country home harbors several ceilings decorated with painted birds: in the hall, in a smaller room in the back of the building and also in the vestibule, a fragment of which was uncovered from later overpainting by Ruth Jongsma in 2004.

The house’s highlight is its domed hall. The walls contain portraits of Cornelis Tromp, his father Maarten Tromp (1598-1653) and Margaretha van Raephorst complemented by a depiction of the classical god of the sea, Neptune. In the bay windows, providing views of the waters surrounding the house, are so-called “ship portraits”, which have recently been attributed to the maritime painter Aernout Smit (ca. 1641-1710) by Tatjana van Run. Moreover she was able to demonstrate that the paintings were executed in 1684 and as such formed part of Trompenburg’s original ensemble; something that previous scholarship had not yet been able to establish. The ship portraits served to commemorate the glorious victories in sea battles in which Cornelis or his father Maarten Tromp had played a significant role.

This case study is predominantly focused on an in-depth analysis of the iconographic program and asks what Tromp wanted to convey with this impressive ensemble. In addition there is an emphasis on the processes by which the home’s ensemble and paintings were produced and conceived; processes in which, it appears, an interrelated network of artists was involved. Finally, the project aims to visualize more clearly a now only partially revealed bird of prey found in the vestibule, with the use of photothermic tomography. The representation of this bird may provide yet another clue to the way in which this ensemble of decorations should be interpreted.

With Ruth Jongsma (of the Bureau voor kleuronderzoek & restauratie); Stichting Restauratie Atelier Limburg; the MA program of Conservation and Restoration, University of Amsterdam. The photothermic tomographic research will be conducted by Tim Zaman, Delft University of Technology, under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Joris Dik.

K. Ottenheym and T. van Run, “The Admiral, his villa and the smell of gun powder, sea and glory” Proceedings from the conference “The early modern villa: The senses and perceptions versus materiality”, Wilanow 2014 (in production).

Tatjana van Run, ‘De koepelzaal van Syllisburg; de scheepsportretten in het landhuis Trompenburg te ’s-Gravenland’, in: Oud Holland, vol. 126 (2013), no. 1, pp. 31-48.

The research into country house Trompenburg will be published in the PhD dissertation currently in preparation by Tatjana van Run, with the working title: “Hemelen op aarde. De Amsterdamse productie van plafonddecoraties in particuliere woningen tijdens de late Gouden Eeuw” (expected 2017).

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