The history of the Trippenhuis

Since it was established, the history of the Academy has been intimately connected with the Trippenhuis on Amsterdam’s Kloveniersburgwal canal.

The Trippenhuis was built between 1660 and 1662 for the brothers Louys (1605–1684) and Hendrick Trip (1607–1666), dealers in arms, artillery, bullets, munitions, iron, and tar. The architect was Justus Vingboons (ca. 1620 – ca. 1698). In the nineteenth century, the Trippenhuis became the property of the city of Amsterdam and the Dutch State.

The Royal Institute of Sciences, Literature and Fine Arts, the forerunner of the present Academy, met for its first two meetings in 1808 in the northern part of the Trippenhuis, which was the residence at the time of Cornelis Sebille Roos (1754–1820), a member of the Royal Institute. In 1808, Roos sold his section of the building to King Louis Napoleon, who allowed the Legislative Body to meet there..

A mighty palace for the arts and sciences

Louis Napoleon wished to merge all the institutions and museums that he had created into a mighty Palace of Arts and Sciences. Unfortunately, political developments were not in his favour. His brother, the Emperor Napoleon, brought him back to France and made the Netherlands part of the French Empire.

In the meantime, the members of the Institute had set their sights on the vacant southern section of the Trippenhuis. Thanks to mediation by the maire of Amsterdam, they were able to conclude a lease with the city for that part. In April 1812, the Institute, now called the Institut d’Amsterdam, was definitively established in the southern section of the building.

The National Museum with the Night Watch

Everyone thought it was splendid: ‘The Institute is now housed in a building suitable for all its activities, and that in dignity corresponds to that which this assembly, as appointed by the Emperor, should have, and to the splendour which should characterise the Third City of the Empire.’

Cornelis Roos had meanwhile sold the northern section of the property to the Dutch State, and in 1814 that half of the building was fitted out as the State Museum (the Rijksmuseum), with paintings including Rembrandt’s Night Watch being installed. The Academy shared the Trippenhuis with the Rijksmuseum until 1885. When the scientists and scholars were meeting, the door of the museum remained closed. In 1885, the Rijksmuseum moved to the building that it now occupies on Stadhouderskade.

Two houses behind a single façade

A notable aspect of the Trippenhuis is that from outside one can barely see that the natural stone façade in fact conceals two residences. The dividing wall is positioned behind the central windows of the façade, which were originally ‘blind’ windows.

The façade is extravagantly decorated. The eight exceptionally tall Corinthian pillars attract the eye, as do the mortar-shaped chimneys adorning the roof – an allusion to the Trip family’s trade in cannon.

The combination of weaponry and olive branches in the carvings is notable and is a reference to the metaphor ‘ex bello pax’: from war comes peace. The Trips were regarded as bringers of peace, because they supplied the weapons to ensure freedom.

Identical residences with rich decoration

The rooms in the two houses are identical, in terms of both dimensions and use. The Trip brothers commissioned numerous paintings from the great artists working in Amsterdam at the time. Ferdinand Bol (1616–1680) and Allaert van Everdingen (1621–1675) produced paintings for the Trippenhuis. Nicolaes de Helt Stockade (1614–1669) was responsible for the paintings on the ceilings.

Much of the rich decoration in the rooms, corridors, and stairwells has been preserved. The restoration of the Trippenhuis (1988–1991) revealed just how richly decorated the house was. In the course of a preliminary survey, original seventeenth-century paintings with birds and hunting scenes were revealed on the ceilings and doors in the corridors. After restauration, these can once again be seen in the corridors of the Trippenhuis.

The period rooms