Petronella Oortman

I knew when I read a review of Jessie Burton’s book, The Miniaturist, that I would love this story…

Petronella Oortman's dollhouse

 I am currently ensconced in the world of Petronella Oortman Brandt, wife of merchant trader Johannes Brandt.  This post is not a review of the book, but rather a look into the intriguing dollhouse given to Nella by Johannes as a wedding gift.

Nella arrived in Amsterdam in 1686, a new bride at age eighteen.  At that time in Europe many well to do people had dollhouses, which were actually pieces of furniture, on display in their homes.  The dollhouses would be built as cupboards or armoires with legs and cabinet doors or curtains covering the front.  These cupboards were not playthings for children but rather were creative expressions for the women of the time and were used as part of their home decor.

Today Petronella’s dollhouse is held by the Rijksmuseum and would cost as much to buy as a real house along one of Amsterdam’s exclusive canals…

Petronella Oortman's dollhouse

Nella’s dollhouse is decorated with original art, miniature paintings and murals, created by Dutch artists.  The furniture is handcrafted and there is marble flooring and miniature porcelain from China…
Petronella Oortman's dollhouse
The salon, a replica of the Brandt’s, where visitors would have been received…
Petronella Oortman's dollhouse
A room for the home’s master, called the comptoir…
Petronella Oortman's dollhouse
Originally there was a garden with a working fountain and also a functional pump in the cook room – the mechanical functions of fountain and pump and also the entire outdoor garden have been lost.
the cook room…
Petronella Oortman's dollhouse
the “best” kitchen, used solely to display the Brandt collection of china-ware…
Petronella Oortman's dollhouse
Petronella Oortman's dollhouse
In the center hallway is a marble floor and a ceiling painting of Aurora, the goddess of dawn.
 On the right is the “lying in” room…

In the 17th century a wealthy home would have had a “lying in” room set aside for women of the house when giving birth.  Here you see a bed set in alcove, a folding screen for privacy, a cradle and a brazier which would have been used for drying diapers…

Petronella Oortman's dollhouse

Petronella Oortman's dollhouse

maid’s room complete with miniature irons…

Petronella Oortman's dollhouse

tapestry room, which would have been used for mourning…

petronella tapestry room

as far as I can tell the only thing missing are the dogs –

in the story they are among the first items curated for the dollhouse –

if you spot them please let me know –

two whippets…


if you are looking for me my head is buried in this book

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  1. patty clark says:

    my head has stayed buried in this blog – the most interesting ever!

    • says:

      The book is amazing – I am trying not to read it too fast because I don’t want it to end!

  2. Lee Threadgill says:

    Love seeing the rooms close up!! Thank you!