Pieter Claesz van Ruijven (1624-1674) married Maria de Knuijt (16??-1681) in 1653. They couple were independently wealthy and became the single most important patron / or should we say mecenas to Vermeer. He is the evil letcherous man in Girl with the pearl Earring, by Tracy Chevalier.

Whereas Maria de Knuijt was part of the mainstream Dutch Reformed Church, his family adhered to the Remonstrants minority, which was barred from a political career within Delft. Pieter became 'Lord of Spalant' in 1669.

Initially they owned two houses in Delft at Voorstraat canal. The one on the west side was modest in size, the other at the east side, former brewery De Os (The Ox) was somewhat larger. In 1660 he also bought brewery De Gouden Aecker (The Golden Acorn) on Voorstraat number 39, for 2100 guilders. The couple probably settled in De Gouden Adelaar (The Golden Eagle), worth 10.500 guilders. Is this the house on the east side of Oude Delft near Boterbrug? In 1664 and 1665 they still lived at east side of Oude Delft.

The major Vermeer patrons, they bought his paintings at perhaps the rate of one a year. In 1669 his collection of Vermeer paintings was (probably- since it is unlikely that Vermeer had any unsold paintings in his studio) visited by a group of art lovers amongst whom was Constantijn Huygens - this visit is described in the diary of Pieter Teding van Berkhout.

In 1657 Pieter and Maria loaned 200 gulden to Johannes Vermeer, presumably as prepayment for paintings.


Johannes Vermeer, (see Vermeer 1, Vermeer 2, Vermeer 3, Vermeer 4, Vermeer 5) was mentioned in their last will and testament as the only artist - a token of true affection.

During the last months of his life Van Ruijven lived in The Hague. In 1680 their daughter Magdalena married Jacob Abrahamsz. Dissius who became the heir to her fortune when Magdalena died in 1682. Amongst the inherited goods were a closet with musical instruments, being a viola de gamba, a violin and two flutes.

In Delft we find Vermeer paintings in the private art collections of Pieter Claesz van Ruijven, Hendrick Ariaensz. van Buyten, Johannes de Renialme, Cornelis van Assendelft, Cornelis de Helt and Gerard van Berckel.

Just outside Delft, in The Hague we find a Vermeer painting in the collection of the sculptor Johan Larson.

Note. Montias's research has shown that the overall net worth of Van Ruijven and De Knuijt's estate, 24,829 guilders, was one of the largest in all of Delft at that time. Montias, 1993, p. 271 273 and p. 323 (note 1). Montias 1998 Recent Research, 93-99, 101, note 26 mentions GAD Huizenprotocol, 3300 on Voorstraat and 3439 on Voorstraat east side being Brewery The Ox. Voorstraat west side in GAD Huizenprotocol. III 767. The GAD House Names File mentions De Vergulde Aecker as '3rd house south of Baljuwsteeg', not to be confused with De drije Ackeren on east side of Voorstraat. Montias in a private communication wonders whether he has misread De Gouden/Vergulde Adelaar (in stead of De Vergulde Aecker ). I have not been able to find this out. Near Voorstraat he also owned a house in Molenstraat; GAD Huizenprotocol. II 20-648 address as "In 't Moleslop" which is Molenstraat near Annastraat. Another house "In 't Molenslop" (GAD Huizenprotocol II fol. 648) is probably an investment. Oude Delft is mentioned at 4F/127, fol 737 which refers to a section of the archives now lost. However, my research of GAD Huizenprotocol III Fol. 927 states a house in his name "Between Breestraat and Oude Kerk". When trying to piece together the order one finds Fol. 929 at "terzijde de" (besides the) Oude Kerk, then the H. Geest Zusterhuis mentioned by Nieuwstraat; then Fol. 923 as corner Boterbrug north side; Fol. 923-v as corner Boterbrug south side; Van Ruijven is mentioned in III Fol. 923. Gouden Adelaar is not clarified in GAD House Names File. Internet archives shows his marriage. RKD, Bredius archive, artist folder mentions docs. 24 March 1664 (Not W. Van Assendelt) and 19 Oct. 1665 Not. N. Paets, Leiden, fol 97) Musical instruments listed by Edwin Buijsen, 'Vermeer en het muziekleven in zijn tijd' in De Hollandse samenleving in de tijd van Vermeer, Den Haag/Zwolle 1996, p.115.

Boterbrug is unique in that it is a street which is formed by a very, very long "bridge" covering the canal.


This page forms part of a large encyclopedic site on Delft. Research by Drs. Kees Kaldenbach (email). A full presentation is on view at johannesvermeer.info.

Launched 16 February 2001; Last update March 1, 2017.