The Trippenhuis has the widest canal house facade in Amsterdam. In 1450 the current location of the Trippenhuis was still outside the Amsterdam city walls. The city was growing at a rapid pace and in the Golden Age rich merchants and traders settled in monumental canal houses along newly dug canals.
The arms traders Louys and Hendrick Trip were the sons of Jacob Trip from Dordrecht and cousins of Louys de Geer from Amsterdam — all of them active in the arms trade. Business was good because there was always war somewhere in Europe during this period. In 1631 Louys and Hendrick set up their own company in Amsterdam “in weapons, artillery and ammunition of wars”. Fourteen years later, the now wealthy brothers decided to have their own house built and bought a plot on the Kloveniersburgwal.
The architect Justus Vingboons designed two exactly mirrored houses behind one monumental façade in the style of Dutch Classicism. This architectural style, inspired by antiquity, is characterized by tight dimensioning with strong symmetry. The dividing wall between the two houses, half a meter (1.64 ft) thick, is located exactly in the middle of the façade, behind the middle row of windows. According to the classical rules, there should be no pilaster in the axis of the house, so the number of pilasters had to be kept even, meaning there had to be windows in the middle (originally these middle windows were blinded).
The façade is decorated with fruit garlands between the windows, with olive and palm branches in the center — the brothers called themselves “arms dealers of the peace”. On the roof there are corner chimneys in the shape of mortars. In the tympanum you can see the Trip family coat of arms (three trip clogs) flanked by four cannon barrels and a supply of cannonballs on either side. The austere rear facade has a tympanum with the family crest. The cost of the construction of the Trippenhuis amounted to 250,000 guilders (almost 3 million euro today)
Use of the building
Until the end of the 18th century, the house was inhabited by private residents. After that it became government owned. From 1812 on, the Royal Institute of Sciences, Letters and Fine Arts (founded in 1808 by Louis Napoleon) was located here, the predecessor of the current Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. The other half of the building was in use by the arts dealer Cornelis Sebille Roos, inspector of the National Museum.
In 1815 the two halves were united. The following year the Rijksmuseum was established in the Trippenhuis, but the accommodation soon proved too small due to the purchases by Cornelis Apostool, director of the Royal Museum in Amsterdam. In 1838, the paintings of still living artists were moved to Paviljoen Welgelegen in Haarlem, but other paintings, including Rembrandt’s Nightwatch, remained in the Trippenhuis until the current Rijksmuseum building designed by Pierre Cuypers was opened in 1885.
The KNAW (Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences) is still located in the Trippenhuis. The building is not open to the public. It can be visited on National Heritage Days, the second weekend in September (next year on 11 and 12 September 2021).
The Little Trippenhuis
The Little Trippenhuis at Kloveniersburgwal 26 is one of the narrowest canal houses in Amsterdam at 2.44 meters (8 ft) wide. Legend has it that one of the wealthy Trip brothers overheard a servant say that he would “already be happy with a house as wide as their front door”. Then this eccentric brother built the little Trippenhuis for the lucky servant on the other side of the canal. It’s a lovely story, told with fervor by many guides, but not true, because the big house was completed in 1662, the small house only in 1696, when both brothers were already dead.
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