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Willet-Holthuysen House

A Fancy Canal House in Amsterdam

Three canal houses in Amsterdam are open to visitors, of which Willet-Holthuysen House is probably the most interesting. It was opened as a museum in 1896, a year after Louisa Holthuysen had bequeathed the house & its furnishings to the city of Amsterdam, together with the art collection assembled by her & her husband, Abraham Willet. The interior is an eclectic mix of 19th-century revival styles, of which Louis-XVI is dominant. The building is a so-called ‘double house’, situated on two plots and with the entrance in the centre of the facade, and dates from the late 17th century, when it was built for Jacob Hop, who was Treasurer of the Exchequer of the Dutch Republic.

The bedroom at Willet-Holthuysen House
The master bedroom with adjoining canopy twin beds

The house’s focal point is the grand reception room on the piano nobile, which in its current form dates from 1865. Willet ordered the room’s carpet & tapestries directly from the Braquenié brothers in Paris, who had them woven at their manufacture in Aubusson. This room, together with the adjacent parlour, is the most authentic part of the house in the sense that it looks like it did in the time of the Willets. The other period rooms are nice as well, but their contents are mainly from elsewhere. Of special interest are the early-19th-century kitchen, the drawing room’s 18th-century painted ceiling, the adjoining canopy twin beds in the master bedroom, and the neo-Renaissance-style room next door, noted for its dark red velour upholstery & wallcovering, where Willet kept the smaller objects in his art collection.

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Another canal house that is definitely worth a visit is Museum Van Loon, which was built in 1672. Its interior has remained largely intact and still evokes the splendour of the 17th century. In the rooms a large collection of paintings, fine furniture, precious silver & porcelain is on display. Behind the house is a beautiful garden, an oasis of quiet in the modern inner city. The garden is laid out in formal style, and is bordered on the far side by the classical facade of the coach house. This original ensemble of canal house, garden & coach house is nowhere else to be seen.