The World Class Banking Tycoon Widow Borski, Amsterdam

An exact address as part of the Amsterdam All - Female urban history walk.

Well researched, with eye witness texts, told on the right spot in the city. Scientifically sound, entertaining, fun, a tour with Drs. Kees Kaldenbach*



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Birth of Capitalism

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Article in Dutch in Ons Amsterdam

Mrs Johanna Pieters Borski -born- van de Velde (1764-1846) also known in Holland as "Widow Borski" inherited her enormous fortune of some 8 million guilders from her late husband, who was a merchant in rice and grains. She became the powerhouse in fiannce and trade in the 19th Century.

At various times she has furnished an immense amount of money in order to save large institutions:

- In 1816 she bought, at the request of King Willem I an sizable stock package in the National Central Bank, Nederlandsche Bank to the value of 1.892.000 guilders.

- In 1820 she furnished, together with Bank Hope, a loan to the Russian State to the tune of van 120 million guilders.

- In 1840 she saved the Dutch Trading Company - Nederlandsche Handel Maatschappij - from going under by providing a new capital injection.

When preparing my walk and boat ride with the theme of important Females and Rich in Amsterdam, I needed to find out where this Grand Lady actually lived in Amsterdam.

From literature I learned that in 1809 her husband purchased a house on Keizersgracht 660 for f 50.000,- That was just one house in the list of real estate owned by the family. Where did she actually live at the end of her life?

Author Van Lennep writes in his book that she lived on an upper floor on Keizersgracht and that she was unable to walk well and therefore could not use the stairs anymore. So that visitors had to come up to her place. However, an old businessman was also shaky on his feet and could not climb her stairs. So he was hoisted up to the floor by personnel, outside, in front of the house in a large basket intended for peat heating blocks.


In her will she stipulated that all of her painted portraits should be buried with her at the time of her death, in order to avoid them being sold out on the streets and on bridges to passers-by. When this portrait was painted at age 80, the family member who commissioned its secretly ordered another copy to be made. This is the one that survives today! Source: Kopstukken exh cat. AHM.

My research for the correct home address was hampered time and again. Van Lennep did not provide an address. Author Spies in his beautiful Grachtenboek writes that she lives on Keizersgracht "close to Spiegelgracht". The massive Herengrachtboek checked as well for eventualities. Also checked the indexes of the book series and magazine series Amstelodamum and Ons Amsterdam both in print and electronically. Internet sites gave no answer.

Finally I found, after some expert help from the staff of the City Archives, Stadsarchief, a microfilm containing a sort of yellow Pages, the Adressbook from 1821, with the listing: Weduwe Borski, Keizersgracht 660 bij de Spiegelstraat. Bingo? No. There has been a re-numbering since then. The latest information is that she lived at Keizersgracht number 566, and since 1888 this building is gone, now a church stands on that site.

With all of her wealth she chose not to live on Herengacht, not to be part of the upper ten in Amsterdam, and with her children - with whom she corresponded in French - she remained bourgeois, a burgher, a citizen.


This portrait was produced to be shown within her home and her will stated that at her death it had to be burnt. A family member secretly ordered another copy of the painting to be made, and this is the ome which exists today.

Literature: Geertje Wiersma, Johanna Borski. Financier van Nederland 1764-1846 (Amsterdam 1998). F.J.E. van Lennep, Een weduwe aan de Amsterdamse beurs. Borski-saga 1765-1960 (Groningen 1973). See also Grachtenhuizen.


By way of contrast: The Rijckloff van Goens career: English version.

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Spotting the Rich & Famous inhabitants in the Golden Age.

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Drs. Kees Kaldenbach is your private "scholar-lecturer on culture tours" *. *Martha Gellhorn, Travels with Myself and another, p. 182.




I conduct Rembrandt walks in Amsterdam for the Netherlands Bureau of Tourism, London and New York City offices. Their clients include important journalists.The travel site has devoted a main feature to my tours and walks.

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About Drs. Kees Kaldenbach:

Read a biography.Drs. Kees Kaldenbach has been featured in television and radio documentaries, including BBC2 TV, NTV Japan, Danish TV and Radio Netherlands World Service. In July 2004 he was interviewed about Delft artists by Tetsuya Tsuruhara for the leading Japanese newspaper The Yomiuri Shimbun. In 2004 and 2005 he acted in an advisory role to additional BBC teams. Kaldenbach has written extensively on Vermeer and 17th century Delft, on Vincent van Gogh and on other art history topics.Drs. Kees Kaldenbach is your private "scholar-lecturer on culture tours".

Further information is available on his encyclopedic web site:

Contact information:Drs. Kees Kaldenbach ,

Haarlemmermeerstraat 83 hs

1058 JS Amsterdam

The Netherlandstelephone

020 - 669 8119 (from abroad NL +20 - 669 8119)cell phone 06 - 2868 9775 (from abroad NL +6 - 2868 9775)

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Launched June 15, 2011. Updated 17 january 2017.