Daily Life in Rembrandt's Holland

Daily Life in Rembrandt's Holland

Daily Life in Rembrandt's Holland

Daily Life in Rembrandt's Holland


The Town: Appearance, Maintaining Order -- The Countryside -- Highways and Canals.



William Temple, who was English ambassador to The Hague and published a long report on the Netherlandsy in 1673, admired 'the beauty and strength' of Dutch towns. The 'golden age' was indeed an era of huge investments in the field of construction and town-building. The wealthy bourgeois gloried in the splendour of his town as, in other countries, he valued his family heritage.

A reddish-brown, black or pink line, across the uniform green of the meadows, with possibly the outline of dunes against the far horizon, provided a typical view of those towns built on flat ground. Except in the east and north of the country, as at Nijmegen, the terrain did not provide the rising ground which in France and Germany, for example, served as a focal point for the town. A few towers, a belfry, some roof-tops would be outlined lowdown under the vast Dutch sky, misty either with drizzle or with a soft light; and there would be a long brick wall and an earth-bank. At the beginning of the seventeenth century most towns were still surrounded by ramparts -- brick walls or fortifications, battlements with loopholes, turrets, moats. Here and there the heavy gateway with its drawbridge would sometimes open, as at Zutphen, not onto a road but onto a canal spanned by its arch.

These fortifications were no longer really used for defence. Grass and trees were planted, or they were turned into . . .

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