In the great Hall ("groote zael") Room I


Function of this room: This room was the best room in the house, the 'grote zaal' or 'opkamer' in Dutch. There were a great number of paintings, which were hung symmetrically.

The great hall was only used by adults during important days or when important visitors were present.

There was a hearth and a bedstead; thus this room was also used to sleep in. Given the large number of children, some were placed under the bedsteads - there were drawers with wheels ('coetsen') in which children slept (Thomas, p. 10).

In his first version of the floor plan, Zantkuijl, the author of these floor plans, did not draw any windows in the side wall along the alleyway. Light only enters the Great Hall from the yard (space O). At Kaldenbach's request, Zantkuijl has drawn variant plans with 3 and 5 windows in the outside wall, along the alleyway. The logical construction of ceiling beams clashes with a three windows format; therefore five windows have been chosen as the likely alternative.






The series of family portraits, the costly clothing, the religious objects and Vermeer's civic guard harness and helmet all point to the high status of this room. One may imagine the set of nine red spanish leather chairs as those with the forward facing lion head finials. These were normally placed in a row with their back against the wall.


Inventory: "A painting of a peasant barn, een schildery uitbeeldende een boere schuyr ; Another painting, nog een schilderij; Two paintings of faces by [Carel] Fabritius twee schilderyen tronyen van fabritius; One with three pumpkins and other fruit, een daerinne drye pompoenen ende ander freut ; Two portraits of Sr. Vermeer's late father and mother, twee conterfeitsels - van Sr. Vermeer zalr vader ende moeder ; Three small drawings by the mantlepiece with black frames, drye kleyne teekeningentiens voor de schoorsteen met swarte lijsten ; A drawing of a coat-of-arms of the aforenamed Sr. Vermeer with ebony frame, een getekent wapen vande voorn. Sr. Vermeer met een ebbe lijst ; A pair of green serge [woolen] curtains with a pelmet [valance] in front of the bedstead, een paer groen cronesaeye [serge stoffen] gordijnen met een vallitie [valletje] voor de bedstee ; A ditto mantlepiece covering, een dito schoorsteen kleetie ; A striped curtain, een gestreept gordyntje ; Iron armor with a helmet, een yser harnis met de stormhoet ; A pike, een pieck; A lead hat edge [hat weight?], een lode hoede rand

A cabinet of joinery work with inlaid ebony, een schrijnwerckt kasie met ebbenhout ingeleyt ; An oak pull-out table, een wagenschotte uyttreckende tafel; A little oak chest een eycke kistgen ; Nine red-leather Spanish chairs, negen roo spaensleere stoelen ; Three green sit-cushions , drye groene sitkussens; A green tablecloth, een groene tafelkleetgen ; an ebony wooden crucifix, een ebbenhout cruys; Ten portraits of the lineage of the aforenamed juffr. Tins all with bad black frames, tien conterfeytsels van de voorn. juffr. Tins geslacht, alle met slechte swarte lijsten ; A painting representing Mary the Mother of Christ in an oak frame, een schildery uitbeeldende de moeder Christi in een eyke lyst ; One more painting of the three Kings [Magi], nog een schildery vande drye koningen."

Linnen and wool.

A "toers" [silk and wool material] mantle of the aforesaid late Sr. Vermeer, een Turxse mantel vande voorn. Sr. Vermeer zal. ; a ditto "inocent" [short men's jacket], een dito inocent [kort wambuis] ; A pair of "toers" [silk and wool material] pair of trousers, een Turxsen [toers] brouck ; A white satin skirt, een witte satijne rock [vrouwen-rok] ; A ditto yellow, een dito geele [vrouwen-rok] ; A white satin bodice, een wit zatijn lyffje ; A yellow satin mantle with white fur trimming, een geele zatyne mantel met witte bonte kanten ; An old green mantle with white fur trimmings, een oude groene mantel met een witte bonte kant ; Mrs. Vermeer's ash-gray travel mantle, een asgraeuwe tripe mantel van juffr. Vermeer ; A black "toers" [silk and wool material] short jacket, een swarte Turxe mantel ; A black woolen cloth women's dress, een swarte laken tabbert ; A black under dress or petticoat, een swarte lakenrock ; Twelve bedsheets, both good and bad, twaelff slaeplackens soo goet als quaet ; Twenty-two ditto pillowcases large and small, twee en twintig dito sloopen soo groot als kleyn ; Five damask tablecloths [with St Andrew's crosses], vijff kruysserviettafelakens ; Nine napkins, negen servietten ; Twenty-one children's shirts both good and bad, een en twintig kinderhemden soo goet als quaet ; Two women's [night shoulder?] shirts, twee vrouwe hemden ; 28 bonnets, acht en twintig mutsen; 11 small children's collars, elff kinderneersticken ; 17 pocket handkerchiefs, seventien sackneusdoucken ; Two woman's shoulder coverings, twee labaertjens ; Seven pairs of muffs, seven paer moutgens ; Three white bonnets, drye witte kappen ; Three children's apron clothes [?] drye kinder schortekleren ; Two morning coats, tweenachtmantels ; Ten men's ruffs, tien mans beffen ; Thirteen pairs of fancy cuffs, dertien paer ponietten. [See the laundry list].

See the original documents from the Delft Archives. Goods owned by Catharina Bolnes, page 1, page 2, page 3, page 4, page 5, page 6, page 7. Goods jointly owned by Catharina Bolnes and Maria Thins, page 1, page 2, page 3, page 4, page 5, page 6.

On Household functions: Not all functions of daily life had been allocated their own specific space in the 17th century house. Rooms were used simultaneously for a variety of functions. One could eat and sleep in the kitchen and in the Great Hall, and when one comes across beds in inventories of a particular room this does not say much about the daily or specific use. Dinner tables could be placed anywhere (Pijzel, Pronkpoppenhuis, 2000, p. 401, note 151).

Note: Inventory written on February 29, 1676 by the assistant of Delft Notary public J. van Veen in the house on Oude Langendijk Delft, corner Molenpoort, of painter Johannes Vermeer who had died there a number of weeks before. The text version cited above is based upon the original document in the Municipal Archive of Delft as published by Van Peer, "Drie collecties...", Oud Holland, 1957, pp. 98-103. This English translation has been checked against that of the largest language dictionary in the world, the Woordenboek der Nederlandsche Taal (WNT), which was started in 1882 by De Vries and Te Winkel. Information on terminology of textiles was kindly supplied in 2001 by art historian Marieke de Winkel. The English translation published previously by Montias in "Vermeer and his Milieu" (1989) contains some errors.

Were all of these garnments kept in an oak chest or in a cupboard? Was the 'cabinet of joinery work with inlaid ebony' a small one as in the Lady Writing Letters (Washington, DC) or was it a large one to hold the clothes?

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

Launched December, 2002; Last update March 1, 2017.

Back to the Welcome page: click Welcome.

Thanks to industrial engineer and web-wizard ir. Allan Kuiper for his wonderful navigator and 3D movies. Advice concerning textiles was given by Marieke de Winkel, whom I thank.