When you think of Dutch architecture, what might come to mind is the famed canal houses of Amsterdam. However, Dutch architecture goes far beyond its canal houses – Dutch Baroque architecture being one of its most breathtaking styles.
The Dutch Baroque period saw the construction of distinctive palaces, churches and other buildings. Let’s take a closer look at what went into building them.
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Dutch Baroque architecture is, as the name suggests, a subset of the Baroque style. Baroque architecture began as a Catholic response to the Protestant Reform.
Ironically, it ended up being adopted by the Protestants. The Netherlands, then called the Dutch Republic, was one of those protestant countries. Note that Dutch Baroque also extended to the Netherland’s colonies.
Let’s rewind to Baroque architecture for a moment. “Baroque” itself is an art-historical term for the period from about 1600 to 1750. The word originated from the Portuguese ”Barocco,” which refers to an irregular stone or pearl. It was first used by 18th century critics to describe the architecture and art of the past century, which they viewed as unusual, opulent, and irregular.
The Baroque architectural style began in Italy after the Renaissance, and was distinguished by ornamentation and a combination of various arts.
In the Netherlands, Baroque architecture developed with its own unique style from the 17th to 18th centuries. Since Dutch Baroque architecture developed after the Netherlands gained independence from the Spanish monarchy, the architectural theme was the new republic.
The extravagance of the Dutch Baroque style was made possible by the immense wealth that the Dutch had accumulated from sugar plantations, the trans-Atlantic slave trade, and imports of the West India Company.
Some examples of the Dutch Baroque style include:
Westerkerk (West Church), Amsterdam, 1631
Huis Ten Bosch (House in the Woods), the Hague, c. 1647
Mauritshuis, the Hague, c. 1640
Most Dutch Baroque buildings or buildings with Dutch Baroque elements were civic buildings, churches and palaces.
The style reflects the religious tensions of the period. It tends to be more austere than the Baroque architecture of other European nations, possibly due to religious influence.
The style used the materials that were common in the era and region, including stone, wood vaulting, and brick. Indeed, buildings were mostly made of brick, while stone was utilized in moderation for decorative elements on facades and for main entrances.
Noble materials (that is, materials that do not react with other elements to form compounds, such as gold and platinum) were reserved for interiors.
On that note, interiors were usually more ornate than exteriors. In them could be found molding, brass applications, paintings and wood carvings.
Symmetry was used to emphasize the center of the structure.
Elements such as gabled roofs, steeples, giant order pilasters and central pediments can be found.
Classical references are also present. These include arches, columns, frontons, gables, and so on. These were mainly decorative and used for exterior facades.
Elements of Baroque architecture in general are, of course, also found. These include an impression of grandeur, large domes, drama, and the use of mirrors to accentuate light. However, note that Dutch Baroque is more subdued than other Baroque styles when it comes to exteriors.
Note that the Dutch Republic was one of the great powers of the 17th century and its architecture had an influence on other European nations. For instance, Dutch architects were employed for various projects in Russia, Scandinavia and Germany.
The architecture of the Dutch Republic was intended to reflect republican and democratic values. It did this by drawing inspiration from classical antiquity. As such, many Dutch architects took references from Italian architect Andrea Palladio.
They also found inspiration in Hendrick de Keyser’sdesigns. De Keyser helped establish a Venetian-influenced style via buildings such as Westerkerk and Noorderkerk.
Generally, architecture in the Low Countries (that is, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg), remained rather invested in the forms of the northern Italian Renaissance. Other key exponents of the 17th century were Pieter Post and Jacob van Campen, who adopted de Keyser’s style.
Dutch Baroque architecture cannot be done justice in a short article, but we hope we have given you an insight into this gorgeous style.
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