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‘Most rare workmen’: optical practitioners in early seventeenth-century Delft


A special interest in optics among various seventeenth-century painters living in the Dutch city of Delft has intrigued historians, including art historians, for a long time. Equally, the impressive career of the Delft microscopist Antoni van Leeuwenhoek has been studied by many historians of science. However, it has never been investigated who, at that time, had access to the mathematical and optical knowledge necessary for the impressive achievements of these Delft practitioners. We have tried to gain insight into Delft as a ‘node’ of optical knowledge by following the careers of three minor local figures in early seventeenth-century Delft. We argue that through their work, products, discussions in the vernacular and exchange of skills, rather than via learned publications, these practitioners constituted a foundation on which the later scientific and artistic achievements of other Delft citizens were built. Our Delft case demonstrates that these practitioners were not simple and isolated craftsmen; rather they were crucial components in a network of scholars, savants, painters and rich virtuosi. Decades before Vermeer made his masterworks, or Van Leeuwenhoek started his famous microscopic investigations, the intellectual atmosphere and artisanal knowledge in this city centred on optical topics.

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1 de Waard Cornelis (ed.), Journal tenu par Isaac Beeckman de 1604 a 1634, 4 vols., Den Haag: Nijhoff, 1939–1953, vol. 3, p. 321.

2 Wheelock Arthur K.Jr, Perspectives, Optics and Delft Artists around 1650, New York: Garland, 1977. See also P.G. de Boer, ‘Enkele Delftse zeventiende eeuwse kerkportretten opnieuw bekeken’, PhD dissertation, Delft University, 1988; and Walter Liedtke, ‘Delft painting “in perspective”: Carel Fabritius, Leonaert Bramer, and the architectural and townscape painters from about 1650 onward’, in Liedtke Walter, Plomp Michiel C. and Rüger Axel, Vermeer and the Delft School, New York: Metropolitan Museum, 2001, pp. 98129. See also Rüger Axel, Vermeer and Painting in Delft, London: National Gallery, 2001.

3 For an overview see Steadman Philip, Vermeer's Camera: Uncovering the Truth behind the Masterpieces, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001; and Steadman, ‘Vermeer's camera: afterthoughts, and a reply to critics’, available at; Lefèvre Wolfgang (ed.), Inside the Camera Obscura: Optics and Art under the Spell of the Projected Image, Berlin: Max Planck Institute, 2007; Jonathan Janson,

4 Weststeijn Thijs, The Visible World: Samuel van Hoogstraten's Art Theory and the Legitimation of Painting in the Dutch Golden Age, Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2008, p. 342.

5 On Van Leeuwenhoek and the development of the microscope see Ruestow Edward G., The Microscope in the Dutch Republic: The Shaping of Discovery, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996. On scholarly developments in the Dutch Republic in a wider context see Cook Harold, Matters of Exchange: Commerce, Medicine, and Science in the Dutch Golden Age, New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007.

6 The subject is indicated briefly by Zandvliet Kees, ‘Vermeer and the significance of cartography in his time’, in van Berkel K. et al. , The Scholarly World of Vermeer, Zwolle: Waanders, 1996, pp. 5379, especially 65–66.

7 On Beeckman see van Berkel Klaas, Isaac Beeckman on Matter and Motion: Mechanical Philosophy in the Making, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013.

8 See, for instance, the optical research in 1633 of the Utrecht professor Reneri. Compare also R.O. Buning, ‘Henricus Reneri (1593–1639): Descartes’ Quartermaster in Aristotelian Territory’, PhD dissertation, Utrecht University, 2013.

9 Dijksterhuis Fokko Jan, ‘The golden age of mathematics: Stevin, Huygens and the Dutch Republic’, Nieuw Archief voor Wiskunde, 5th series (2008) 9, pp. 100107.

10 The term is introduced by Weststeijn, op. cit. (4), p. 347. See also Filipczak Zirka Z., ‘Vermeer, elusiveness, and visual theory’, Simiolus: Netherlands Quarterly for the History of Art (2006) 32, pp. 259272.

11 Weststeijn, op. cit. (4), p. 342.

12 Weststeijn, op. cit. (4), p. 439.

13 Livingstone David, Putting Science in Its Place: Geographies of Scientific Knowledge, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2003.

14 Harkness Deborah E., The Jewel House: Elizabethan London and the Scientific Revolution, New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007, pp. 6, 258.

15 Wheelock, op. cit. (2); Van Berkel et al., op. cit. (6); Huerta Robert D., Giants of Delft: Johannes Vermeer and the Natural Philosophers. The Parallel Search for Knowledge in the Age of Discovery, Lewisburg: Bucknell University Press, 2003.

16 Rupp J.C., ‘Matters of life and death: the social and cultural conditions of the rise of anatomical theatres, with special reference to seventeenth-century Holland’, History of Science (1990) 28, pp. 263287; See also Houtzager H. and Jonker M. (eds.), De snijkunst verbeeld. Delftse anatomische lessen nader belicht, Zwolle: Waanders, [2003].

17 Cf. several studies of Montias John Michael, such as Artists and Artisans in Delft: A Socio-economic Study of the Seventeenth Century, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1982. See also Jorink Eric, ‘“Alle bedenckelijcke curieusheden”. Delftse verzamelingen en de ontwikkeling van de natuurwetenschap in de zeventiende eeuw’, in Bergvelt E. (ed.), Schatten in Delft, Zwolle: Waanders, 2002, pp. 101125. Liedtke W., A View of Delft: Vermeer and His Contemporaries, Zwolle: Waanders, 2000, p. 27.

18 Nellen Henk, Hugo de Groot: een leven in strijd om de vrede, 1583–1645, Amsterdam: Balans, 2007, pp. 2632.

19 Stevin Simon, L'Arithmetique, Leyden: Plantin, 1585, [dedication], p. ii.

20 Stevin Simon, Vande Deursichtighe, Part 3 of Wisconstige Gedachtenissen, Leiden: Jan Bouwensz, 1605. Stevin announces a study on catoptrics in De Bewysconst (1595), ‘Tsamespraeck’, p. 158 (courtesy Ad Davidse).

21 Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, sign. 4 Math.a. 226, inscribed ‘Sum Petri Vosmeri Delpho-Batavi 1599 | Amanti nihil difficile | Difficilia quae pulchra | Que rara rara’ (freely translated as ‘I am from Petrus Vosmer from Delft 1599, who loves only difficult things. Difficult is pleasant and rare’). Petrus Vosmer was a member of the influencial Delft family Vosm(a)er. In 1605 he was ordained as a priest. Cf. Jacobs H. and Begheyn P.J., ‘De Noord-Nederlandse studenten aan het pauselijk Collegium Germanicum te Rome van 1552 tot 1627’, Archief voor de geschiedenis van de Katholieke Kerk in Nederland (1973) 15, pp. 73149, 94.

22 Dupré Sven, ‘Visualisation in Renaissance optics’, in Kusukawa Sachiko and Maclean Ian (eds.), Transmitting Knowledge: Words, Images, and Instruments in Early Modern Europe, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006, pp. 1140, 33–34.

23 De Haan D. Bierens, ‘Ludolph van Ceulen’, Bouwstoffen voor de geschiedenis der wis- en natuurkundige wetenschappen in de Nederlanden, Amsterdam: KNAW, 1878, pp. 123170.

24 Feitsma W.A., ‘Delft, de wapenkamer van Holland’, in Houtzager H.L. et al. , Kruit en Krijg: Delft als bakermat van het Prins Maurits Laboratorium, Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1988, pp. 147163.

25 Cf. Vermeir Koen, ‘The magic of the magic lantern (1660–1700): on analogical demonstration and the visualization of the invisible’, BJHS (2005) 38, pp. 127159, 128.

26 van Helden Albert, Dupré Sven, van Gent Rob and Zuidervaart Huib (eds.), The Origins of the Telescope, Amsterdam: KNAW, 2010.

27 Théodore Deschamps to Marin Mersenne, 5 May 1642, cited in De Waard, op. cit. (1), vol. 1, p. 209.

28 Cf. Willach Rolf, The Long Route to the Invention of the Telescope, Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 2008.

29 Zuidervaart Huib J., ‘The “invisible technician” made visible: telescope making in the seventeenth and early eighteenth-century Dutch Republic’, in Morrison-Low Alison D. et al. (eds.), From Earth-Bound to Satellite: Telescopes, Skills and Networks, Leiden: Brill, 2012, pp. 41102.

30 In the years 1608–1615 we have identified about a dozen spectacle-makers in the Netherlands. See Zuidervaart, op. cit. (29).

31 In the years 1609–1610 there was no spectacle-maker working in Leiden. The earliest recorded Leiden-based spectacle trader was Casper Parrier, brillecramer from Saxony, who married in Leiden in 1623. The earliest known Leiden spectacle-maker was Marten Willemsz brilmaker, who stood witness at a baptism in 1624. Regional Archive Leiden, DTB registers, 12 May 1623 and 26 March 1624.

32 City Archive Delft, ‘Weeskamer’ (Orphan chamber), no. 1028 (legacy of Gijsbrecht Pietersz Castel).

33 At his marriage with Annetgen Bailly, it was noted that Evert Harmansz brilmaecker came from Enckhuysen, but this entry probably was a mistake by the civil servant. When Evert Harmansz gained civil rights in Delft on 10 March 1611, it was recorded that he was a brilmaker from Steenwijck, the place after which he named himself in the 1630s. Evert Harmansz had been married before, on 16 August 1597, with Styntgen Jansdr, also from Leiden. Regional Archive DTB-records; City Archive Delft, Poortersboek, fol. 113, v4.

34 Pieter Bailly was one of the many protestant Flemish who had moved from Antwerp to the northern Netherlands. Probably in 1573 he settled as a schrijfmeester (writing master) in Leiden, where in 1582 he became the official writing master of the university. He worked also for the Leiden city council and for Raphelingen book publishers. In 1590 Pieter was also appointed junior macebearer (pedel) of the university. However, in 1598 Bailly was fired from this position, because he was accused of bringing students to brothels (oneerlijke huizen). Three years before, Bailly had entered the service of the mathematician Ludolph van Ceulen as assistant at his newly founded fencing school. In 1602 this cooperation ended, as he had illegally given fencing instructions. Then Bailly moved to Amsterdam, where he continued as a fencing instructor. See Briels J., ‘Biografische aantekeningen betreffende Zuidnederlandse onderwijskrachten in Noordnederland 1570–1630’, Archief voor de geschiedenis van de katholieke kerk in Nederland 14 (1972), pp. 281282; Sluijter Ronald, Tot ciraet, vermeerderinge ende heerlyckmaeckinge der universiteyt, Hilversum: Verloren, 2004, p. 170; de la Fontaine Verwey H., ‘Gerard Thibault en zijn Academie de l'Espée’, Jaarboek Amstelodamum 69 (1977), pp. 2354, esp. p. 27.

35 Vollgraff J.A., ‘Brieven van Rudolph en Willebrord Snellius’, Leidsch Jaarboekje (1914), pp. 103111; Liesbeth de Wreede, ‘Willebrord Snellius (1580–1626): a humanist reshaping the mathematical sciences’, PhD dissertation, Leiden University, 2007, p. 68.

36 Aemilius van Rosendael (1557–1620) was a lawyer at the Hof of Holland in The Hague. The origin of his first spyglass is not known. In 1610 there were three spectacle-makers working in The Hague. Zuidervaart, op. cit. (29), pp. 67–69.

37 Vollgraff, op. cit. (35), p. 110.

38 De Wreede, op. cit. (35), pp. 2, 49. They lived in a house on the Koepoortsgracht (now Doezastraat), bought by Rudolph Snel in 1601.

39 Arjen Dijkstra, ‘Between academics and idiots: a cultural history of mathematics in the Dutch province of Friesland (1600–1700)’, PhD dissertation, Twente University, 2012, pp. 136–138.

40 Marius Simon, Mundus Iovialis, anno M.DC.IX detectus ope perspicilli Belgici, Nuremberg: Laurus, 1614. Prickard A.O., ‘The “Mundus Jovialis” of Simon Marius’, The Observatory (1916) 39, pp. 367381, 371.

41 Fabricius Johann, De Maculis in Sole Observatis, Wittenberg: Seuberlichij, 1611; Berthold Gerhard, Der Magister Johann Fabricius und die Sonnenflecken, nebst einem Excurs über David Fabricius, Leipzig: Veit, 1894.

42 Snellius W., De Maculis In Sole Animadversis, Leiden: Plantijn, 1612. Snel's tract was written as a commentary on Christoph Scheiner's Tres epistolae de maculis solaribus of 1612. From other sources we know that Snel regarded the telescope only as an auxiliary tool during surveying activities. De Wreede, op. cit. (35), pp. 70, 100.

43 De Wreede, op. cit. (35), p. 69. Vollgraff, op. cit. (35), p. 109.

44 De Waard, op. cit. (1), vol. 3, p. 69.

45 De Waard, op. cit. (1), vol. 2, p. 294. See also Fokko Jan Dijksterhuis, ‘Labour on lenses: Isaac Beeckman's notes on lens making’, in Van Helden et al., op. cit. (26), pp. 257–270.

46 De Waard, op. cit. (1), vol. 2, p. 295.

47 De Waard, op. cit. (1), vol. 3, p. 396. This quote dates from 1634, but De Waard already noted (in vol. 1, p. 295, and vol. 3, p. 232) that Beeckman most likely obtained this telescope in the mid-1620s. Beeckman visited Delft in May 1625 (vol. 1, p. 325).

48 An itinerant brillencramer or spectacle salesman called Jan Thonisz was mentioned once in Delft on 16 January 1616. GAD, Eerste consentboek, fol. 166v.

49 Spoors Jacob, Oratie van de Nieuwe Wonderen des Wereldts, de Nuttigheyd, de Waerdigheyd, der Wis- ende Meet-konsten, Delft: Jan Pietersz Waelpot, 1638, p. 25 : ‘Isaac Beeckman, met wien ick onderlinghe kennisse ende correspondentie hebbe gehouden’. This correspondence has not survived.

50 Jacob Mathijsz Spoors is first mentioned as a surgeon in December 1614, when he lived in De Drie Croonen on the Delft Market; in 1619 and 1621 he is mentioned as such in Oud-Beyerland. DTB Delft 14 inv. 5, folio 60; ONA Rotterdam 78, 45/95.

51 Spoors, op. cit. (49), p. 5: Willebrord Snellius: ‘daer van ick nu al ontrent twintigh jaren geleden, professie hebbe gedaen, voor den Hoogh-geleerden Heere Willebrordus Snellius’. See also Muller E. and Zandvliet K. (eds.), Admissies als landmeter in Nederland voor 1811, Alphen aan de Rijn: Canaletto, 1987, p. 166.

52 Spoors, op. cit. (49), p. 3.

53 Spoors, op. cit. (49), pp. 6–7.

54 Hortensius to Galileo, 26 January 1637, printed in De Waard, op. cit. (1) vol. 4, p. 256. Descartes also stated that Dutch-made telescopes were not able to see Jupiter's moons in a proper way. Cf. René Descartes to Elia Diodati, 13 April 1637, in Worp J.A., De briefwisseling van Constantijn Huygens, 1608–1687, 's-Gravenhage: Nijhoff, 1911–1917, Letter 1542. See also Gassendi to Galileo, 19 January 1634, and Galileo to Elia Diodati, 6 June 1637, printed in Keil Inge, Von Ocularien, Perspicillen und Mikroskopen, von Hungersnöten und Friedensfreuden, Optikern, Kaufleuten und Fürsten. Materialien zur Geschichte der optischen Werkstatt von Johann Wiesel (1583–1662) und seiner Nachfolger in Augsburg, Augsburg: Wißner, 2003, pp. 40, 48.

55 In 1633 the Utrecht professor Henricus Reneri also complained about the lack of a proper lens grinder. Buning, op. cit. (8), p. 110.

56 Spoors, op. cit. (49). At present only one copy is known: Amsterdam University Library (OTM: O 60–322). A copy in the Library of the Société royale des sciences de Liège is missing.

57 Jorink Eric, Reading the Book of Nature in the Dutch Golden Age, 1575–1715, Leiden: Brill, 2010, p. 348.

58 Jorink, op. cit. (57), p. 349.

59 Spranckhuysen Dionysius, Macro-cosmus, ofte aenmerckinghen over de scheppinghe vande groote werelt, Delft: Cloeting, 1634; Spranckhuysen, Micro-cosmus, dat is aenmerckingen over de scheppinghe vanden menschen, ofte de kleyne werelt, Delft: Cloeting, 1636. Jorink, op. cit. (57), p. 364.

60 Heavenly bodies: Spranckhuysen, Macro-cosmus, op. cit. (59), pp. 66–71; Spoors, op. cit. (49) pp. 10 ff.; proportion of the human body: Spranckhuysen, Micro-cosmus, op. cit. (59), p. 29; Spoors, op. cit. (49), pp. 30–31; ancient Olympic games: Spranckhuysen, Macro-cosmus, op. cit. (59), p. 113; Spoors, op. cit. (49), p. 39.

61 Spoors, op. cit. (49).

62 Spoors, op. cit. (49), p. 9.

63 Spoors, op. cit. (49), p. 5.

64 van Berkel K., ‘De geschriften van Rudolf Snellius: Een bijdrage tot de geschiedenis van het ramisme in Nederland’, Tijdschrift voor de Geschiedenis der Geneeskunde, Wiskunde, Natuurwetenschappen en Techniek (1983) 6, pp. 185194.

65 Spoors, op. cit. (49), pp. 22–23.

66 Spoors, op. cit. (49), p. 31.

67 Spoors, op. cit. (49), p. 33.

68 Spoors, op. cit. (49), p. 35.

69 Spoors, op. cit. (49), p. 34.

70 Vermij Rienk, The Calvinist Copernicans: The Reception of the New Astronomy in the Dutch Republic, 1575–1750, Amsterdam: Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen, 2002, p. 105.

71 Spoors, op. cit. (49), p. 24.

72 Spoors, op. cit. (49), p. 22.

73 Spoors, op. cit. (49), pp. 24–25.

74 Vermeir, op. cit. (25), 156, argues that the magic lantern played a similar role in ‘visualizing invisible and hidden processes in nature’.

75 Spoors, op. cit. (49), pp. 24–26.

76 Spoors, op. cit. (49), p. 11.

77 Spoors, op. cit. (49), pp. 24–25.

78 For a discussion of simple objects used to underscore the mechanistic world view see Meli Domenico Bertoloni, Thinking with Objects: The Transformation of Mechanics in the Seventeenth Century, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006, pp. 45.

79 Spoors, op. cit. (49), p. 9.

80 De Waard, op. cit. (1), vol. 3, p. 252.

81 Spoors, op. cit. (49), p. 43.

82 Lieuwe van Aitzema to Duke August of Braunschweig-Lüneburg, undated [March 1650, according to the letter's content], Herzog August Bibliothek, Wolfenbüttel, 82 Novi, fol. 395: post scriptum. With many thanks to Marika Keblusek for her superb generosity in providing us with her notes from the Aitzema correspondence.

83 See for Aitzema's role as an agent for Duke August Keblusek Marika, Boeken in de Hofstad: Haagse boekcultuur in de Gouden Eeuw, Hilversum: Verloren, 1997, Chapter 7.

84 Walking canes with a hidden spyglass became rather common in the eighteenth century. However, to our knowledge this is the first mention of such a device: ‘tubus opticiens (oder perspective), pour servir aussij de baston [= baton]’ (n. 82). The second-oldest example is in an advertisement in the Amsterdamsche Courant of 7 July 1697 for ‘seer konstige verrekyckers van vier glaesen in wandelstokken’ (‘very artful telescopes with four glasses in walking canes’) made by François Veeckens in Leiderdorp.

85 Van Aitzema to Duke August, undated [1650, according to the letter's content], HAB MS 82 Novi, fol. 405.

86 HAB MS 82 Novi, fols. 404, 407.

87 Evert Harmansz Steenwijck brillemaeker was buried in Delft in the Old Church on 23 April 1654. His wife Annetgen Pieters [Bailly] was buried there on 8 February 1648.

88 Niedersächsisches Landesarchiv Wolfenbüttel, 1 Alt 6, nr. 124, fol. 57: Van Aitzema to Duke August, 5 January 1655, mentioning the death of the old perspectiven maister and the emergence of a new lens grinder von adel (‘of noble descent’).

89 In April 1654 Evert Harmansz's youngest son Job Steenwijck (then a Calvinist minister in Geervliet) and his son-in-law Jan Brugman (a merchant living in Vianen) were commissioned to sell Evert's goods. Notary Johan van Ophoven, Delft, 28 April 1654. Deed partly printed in Bredius A., ‘De schilders Pieter en Harmen Steenwijck’, Oud Holland (1890) 8, pp. 143148. Brugman had married Willempgen Everts [Steenwijck], jongedochter living at the Oude Delft, on 4 March 1634.

90 de Morees W., Het Münsterse geslacht Van der Wyck, 's Gravenhage: (n. publ.), 1911, pp. 4142, 44, 138.

91 Van der Wyck is not listed in the long file of customers (from 1646) of the Delft brewery of Isaac Elsevier, whereas Evert Steenwyck and one of Van der Wyck's closest friends (Eleazar Lotius, Calvinist pastor in The Hague) are. ONA Rotterdam 145/306. The earliest record of his presence in Delft is August 1654. Johan [van] de[r] Wyck to Christiaan Huygens, 27 October 1654 (Leiden University Library HUG 45/202), printed in Huygens, Oeuvres complètes, 's-Gravenhage: Martinus Nijhoff, 1888–1950, Letter no 202.

92 We explore Van der Wyck's later career elsewhere.

93 Johan [van] de[r] Wyck, op. cit. (91).

94 Huygens, Oeuvres complètes, op. cit. (93), Letter 236, Christiaan to Constantijn Jr, 1 October 1655; see also Letter 233, Constantijn Huygens Jr to Christiaan, 2 September 1655; Letter 235, Christiaan to Constantijn Sr, 24 September 1655; and Letter 242, Constantijn Huygens Jr to Christiaan, 28 October 1655.

95 Greengrass Mark, Leslie Michael and Raylor Timothy (eds.), Samuel Hartlib and Universal Reformation, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994, p. 2.

96 Hartlib Papers, 29/5/29A–42B (40A).

97 By expressing Van der Wyck as ‘the Belgic Reeves’, Hartlib gave a huge compliment. Richard Reeve(s) was the first optical instrument-maker in England, constructing high-quality telescopes from about 1644 until his death in 1666. Simpson A.D.C., ‘Richard Reeve – the English Campani – and the origins of the London Telescope-making tradition’, Vistas in Astronomy (1985) 28, pp. 357365.

98 Hartlib Papers, 29/5/29A-42B (41A-41B).

99 Van der Wyck to Van Aitzema, 31 May 1655, HAB 376 Novi fol.9r-9v. Courtesy to Leo Nellissen for the translation from the Latin.

100 Koslow S., ‘De wonderlijke Perspectiefkas: An aspect of seventeenth-century Dutch Painting’, in Oud-Holland 82 (1967), pp. 3556. David Bomford, ‘Perspective, anamorphosis, and illusion: seventeenth-century Dutch peep shows’, in Gaskell Ivan and Jonkers Michael, Vermeer Studies, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998, pp. 125135.

101 Verweij Agnes, ‘Perspective in a box’, Nexus Network Journal (2010) 12, pp. 4762; Andersen Kirsti, The Geometry of an Art: The History of the Mathematical Theory of Perspective from Alberti to Monge, New York: Springer, 2007, pp. 309319; Weststeijn, op. cit. (4), pp. 304–311.

102 Liedtke W.A., ‘The view in Delft by Carel Fabritius’, Burlington Magazine (1976) 118, pp. 6173.

103 Harmen Evertz Steenwijck (1612–c.1656) and Pieter Evertz Steenwijck (1615–c.1654) became fairly successful still-life painters, being trained in this profession by their uncle, the Leiden painter David Bailly (1584–1657). Koozin Kristine, The Vanitas Still Lifes of Harmen Steenwijck: Metaphoric Realism, Lewiston: Mellon, 1990; Wurfbain Maarten, ‘David Bailly's Vanitas of 1651’, in Fleischer Roland E. and Munshower Susan Scott (eds.), The Age of Rembrandt: Studies in Seventeenth-Century Dutch Painting, University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1988, pp. 4960.

104 Liedtke, op. cit. (2), p. 127. Bramer is also one of the two known Delft painters to have depicted a telescope in his work: (1) an illustration in Francisco Quevedo's Spaensche dromen oft seven wonderlijcke ghesichten (Leeuwarden 1641), and (2) an allegory on the five senses (Leipzig, Museum Bildende Kunste, inv. N. I. 404). The other Delft painter to have depicted a telescope is Anthonie Palamedesz, who is well known for his paintings of military men (RKD, The Hague).

105 Heidi de Mare, ‘Het huis en de regels van het denken: Een cultuurhistorisch onderzoek naar het werk van Simon Stevin, Jacob Cats en Pieter de Hooch’, PhD dissertation, Amsterdam University, 2003, Chapter 4. See also Kersten M., ‘Pieter de Hooch and Delft genre painting 1650–1675’, in Kersten M. et al. (eds.), Delft Masters, Vermeer's Contemporaries: Illusionism through the Conquest of Light and Space, Zwolle: Waanders, 1997, pp. 129210.

106 Duke August to Van Aitzema, The Hague, 16 June 1655, HAB 376 Novi, fol. 6r-8v, printed in Keil, Ocularien, pp. 186–187 n. 54. The price of a telescope was eighty reichsthaler.

107 Antonius Maria Schyrl de Rheita, Oculus Enoch et Eliae, Sive Radius Sidereomysticus, Antwerp, 1645. See Willach Rolf, ‘The development of telescope optics in the middle of the seventeenth century’, Annals of Science (2001) 58, pp. 381398.

108 Van der Wyck to Van Aitzema, 31 May 1655, op. cit. (99).

109 Christiaan Huygens (London) to Lodewijk Huygens, 10 August 1663, in Huygens, Oeuvres complètes, op. cit. (93), Letter 1141. See also Dijksterhuis Fokko Jan, ‘A view from the mountain: the development of Isaac Vossius’ Optics, 1658–1666’, in Jorink Eric and Van Miert Dirk (eds.), Isaac Vossius (1618–1689): Between Science and Scholarship, Leiden: Brill, 2012, pp. 157188.

110 de Monconys Balthasar, Journal des Voyages de monsieur Monconys. Où les sçavants trouveront un nombre infini des nouveautez, 2 vols., Lyon: Bois Remeus, 1665, vol. 2, p. 154.

111 Caspar March to Johannes Hevelius in Dantzig, 8 March 1664: ‘H. Obrist J von der Wyke, Commandant in Stralsund, der in Opticis, Geometrie und andern Mathematiche Mechanicis fast excelliret, und mit E. H. nicht ungern bekannd sein möchte. Er hat etliche 10.000 fl[orijnen] allein auf das glasschleiffen spendiert, daher er überaus köstliche apparat dazu hat, under andern eine schüssel zum Tubo von 30 oder 32 Schuh, dergleichen er J.K. M. hochstl. angedenck. in Schweden verehret … Den Jovem habe er dadurch wie einen großen TischTeller gesehen. Mir hat er jungsthin ein glas zum Tubo von 6 Ellen verehrt, welches ich jetzo eben in eine Röhre bringen lassen, der effect bringt’. Observatoire de Paris, OP C 1 tom. 6, 851 M. Courtesy Jürgen Hamel.

112 ONA Delft, 1681, fol. 51, 5 June 1675.

113 In June 1655 Van Aitzema visited ‘der Perspectivmacher zu Delfft’. Keil, op. cit. (54), p. 186.

114 Maria Thins used Jacob Spoors as her notary on 15 July 1649 and 31 March 1674. The last deed was also signed by ‘Sr. Johannis Vermeer, Mr. Schilder’. Cf. Montias J.M., ‘Vermeer and his milieu: conclusions of an archival study’, Oud Holland (1980) 94, pp. 50, 62.

115 Antoni van Leeuwenhoek to Jan Meerman, burgomaster of Delft, 14 March 1713. Van Leeuwenhoek was admitted as a surveyor in 1669. Cf. Palm L.C. and Snelders H.A.M., Antoni van Leeuwenhoek, 1632–1723: Studies on the Life and Work of the Delft Scientist Commemorating the 350th Anniversary of His Birthday, Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1982.

116 The Verkolje portrait of Antoni van Leeuwenhoek (1686) is now in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.

117 In 1645 Spoors published a memorial poem for the Delft-born law scholar Hugo de Groot (or Grotius): Lyck-klacht over ‘t droevigh overlijden van sijn excellentie Hugo de Groot, ghesant van de croon Zweden aen den alderchristelicksten coninck van Vranckrijck. Overleden tot Rostock den xviij. van oogst-maendt 1645, Delft: Jan Pietersz Waalpot, 1645. In 1658, at the request of Waalpot's son Abraham (then his neighbour), Spoors edited and enlarged a new edition of van Schingen's HeroCorpus juris, ofte kort begryp van alle titulen van de 50. boecken Digestorum Justiniani, Delft: Jan Pietersz & Abraham Waelpot, 1658.

118 ONA Rotterdam, inv. no. 431 (Notary Balthasar Bazius), fols. 98–138, 6 December 1640.

119 H.L. Houtzager, ‘Dieren in Delft’, Tijdschrift voor de Geschiedenis der Geneeskunde, Wiskunde, Natuurwetenschappen en Techniek (1979) 2, pp. 52–61, 60.

120 In 1648 Anthonij Sneewins was an oorijzermaecker (‘cap-brooch-maker’) at the Buitenwatersloot in Delft. Shortly afterwards he started also making brass scientific instruments. In 1656 he called himself a ‘mathematical instrument-maker’. He executed deeds before Jacob Spoors on 16 March 1656, 24 January 1659, 11 November 1660 and 10 January 1676. ONA Delft.

121 Fondation Custodia (coll. F. Lugt), Paris, inv. nr 6534–37, drawing in colour by Van der Ast, on paper with watermark, dated 1633. The drawing is signed ‘Perragoen Spoors | Ultra Festenhis [= Festinus]’ (‘Paragon [of the tulip named] Spoors, fast growing’). Spoors's involvement with the growing of tulips in the 1630s has not been noticed by Goldgar Anne, Tulipmania: Money, Honor, and Knowledge in the Dutch Golden Age, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2008.

122 Jacob Mathijsz Spoors (c.1595–1677) married five times: (1) on 28 December 1614, in Delft, to Trijntgen Aelbrechts from the Koornmarkt. (2) Around 1620, in Oud-Beyerland, to Elysabeth Adriaensdr, who gave birth to two children, ‘Aryaen’ (d. 1656), who from 1640 served as an assistant of the Dutch East India Company in Batavia (Indonesia), and Susanna, who in 1649 married Abraham Pietersz [van Heuckelom]. (3) In February 1628, in Oud-Beyerland, to Lijsbeth van Son, who died within a year, after giving birth to a son, Jacob (1628–1646). (4) On 22 July 1629, in Oud-Beyerland, to Elisabeth (‘Lijsbeth’) Bartholomeusdr (d. 1665), the widow of Arien van Son. Perhaps she was Spoors former sister-in-law. Until 1636 the couple lived in Oud-Beijerland, where two daughters were born: Lijsbeth (1633–1716, 1666 married Benjamin Coo) and Judith (*1636; 1657 married the Delft notary Michael Stepsius [d. 1666]). Other children were born in Delft: Johan (*1638; 1659 married Alette Elsevier; became a notary in 1664, moved to Zegwaard in 1672; d. 1685); Helena (*1640; 1663 married Abraham van Schaick); and Bartholomeeus (*1642; 1664 married Susannitge Baltens Kusenaer; moved to Cape Town, South Africa, before 1671). (5) In 1667, in Delft, Spoors remarried Trijntge Jans, widow of Jacob Cornelisz Zuijtdijck. After Jacob Spoors's death in January 1677, she was married again, in 1680, to Gillis Simonsz van der Maes, meester metselaar from Wateringen. DTB Oud-Beijerland & Delft; ONA Oud-Beijerland & Rotterdam; NA, 1e afd. ARA – Aanwinsten: 923 XIV 26.

123 These portraits, which cost ninety guilders, are mentioned in the inventories of both Van Mierevelt's estate, and in those of his son-in-law Johan van Beest (1648). Unfortunately both paintings are lost. A. Bredius, ‘Michiel Jansz van Mierevelt. Eene nalezing’, Oud Holland (1908) 26, p. 14; and Delft Archive, ‘weeskamer’, No 3422.

124 City Archive Delft, DTB register, 6-12-1655. Frans Grijzenhout already noticed ties between De Hooch and the notaries De Roon and Spoors. Grijzenhout, ‘New information on Pieter de Hooch and the Amsterdam lunatic asylum’, Burlington Magazine (September 2008) 150, pp. 612613. See also the dedication in Spoors, op. cit. (117).

125 City Archive Delft, notary Jacob Spoors, 28 August 1655, No 1676, fols. 637–639v, inventory of the estate of Justus de la Grange. Cited after Brown Christopher, Carel Fabritius: Complete Edition with a Catalogue Raisonée, Oxford: Phaidon, 1981, 153. De la Grange employed De Hooch in 1653.

126 The painter Louis Elsevier (1618–1675) witnessed the baptisms of Sijmon Spoors on 31 July 1667 and Aarnault Spoors on 18 June 1669. Archive Delft, DTB.

127 Most inhabitants of the locations mentioned in this paragraph are found with the digital tools of the Delft City Archive (digitale stamboom and the former historical GIS); see, and We refer to the present-day address, and to the number on the 1832 cadastral map. See also the website on Delft artists and patrons by Kees Kaldenbach, at

128 In Delft Spoors first lived at Oude Delft 90–92 (034D432). Around 1650 he moved to the other side, Oude Delft 107 (034D445).

129 Evert Harmansz Steenwijck lived at the Oude Delft, at least from 1634 (when his daughter Willempgen married), until his death in 1654. He rented his lodgings, for he is not mentioned in the Delft ‘Huizenprotocol’ or in any other housing register, such as the ‘Verponding’ registers of 1620 and 1636. In the surviving documents an exact location is not given. However, Evert Harmansz brillemaecker was very frequently used as a notary witness, first (between 1614 and 1618) by the Delft notary Cornelis Couckebacker (d. 1666) and later (between 1619 and 1633) by the Delft notary Dirck de Haen (d. 1637). Therefore he must have been at hand whenever they needed a witness. This means that Evert Harmansz rented a house very near by. Couckebacker resided at Oude Delft 108 and De Haen at Oude Delft 120, at the corner with the Nieuwstraat. Cf. Delft Archive, Huizenprotocol, fols. 380, 782, 924.

130 Floeris Gijesebertsz Castel lived in the Nieuwstraat, with his mother, the widow of the late Gysbrecht Pietersz Castel (see n. 32 above).

131 Generaliteits Magazijn (present-day Catholic Sint-Hippolytuskapel), Oude Delft 118 (C03742 and 034C1064). This military repository of the States-General was the main workplace of Johan van der Wyck.

132 Johan van der Wyck and his wife Johanna Van Hoorn van Brouhese probably rented lodgings in the house of Catharina Noté (1622–1682), daughter of Samuel Noté (d. 1648), kwartiermeester-generaal of the cavalry. In 1680 she was the only Delft heir of the Van der Wyck couple. With her sister Lowijsa (1633–1658), Catharina Noté lived at the Oude Delft across the Boterbrug, where the unmarried sisters had a shop. NA Den Haag, Notary Van Adrichem, 3 April 1680; Notary Van Deuterom, 20 June 1680.

133 In 1653 Antoni van Leeuwenhoek bought the house called Het Gouden Hooft (the Golden Head) at the corner of the Nieuwstraat and the Hypolytusbuurt (Nieuwstraat 16 = 034C151). He lived here the rest of his life.

134 Cornelis de Man (‘Mannius’), apothecary in Delft, is mentioned in Clusius's Rariorum Plantarum Historia, Antwerp Plantin & Moretum, 1601, p. ccxxvi (courtesy Dr Esther van Gelder). He had a garden for cultivating herbs at the Donckersteeg. See Bosman-Jelgersma H.A., Vijf eeuwen Delftse apothekers, Amsterdam: Meesters, 1979, p. 76.

135 Rafalska-Lasocha Alicja, Lasocha Wieslaw and Jasinska Anna, ‘Cold light in the painting ‘Group Portrait in the Chemist's House’, in Kokowski M. (ed.), The Global and the Local: The History of Science and the Cultural Integration of Europe, (Digital) Proceedings of the 2nd ICESHS,, Cracow, 2007, 969–972.

136 In the painting, the apothecary Cornelis Anthonisz de Man (1627–1679, evidently the person in the blue Japanese robe, next to an open book on alchemy and below a bust of Hippocrates), is discussing with his two cousins, Doede Willemsz de Man (1628–1709), a silversmith living first at the Binnenwatersloot, later at the Oude Delft, and the painter himself, Cornelis Willemsz de Man (1621–1706). The two boys on the left are probably Anthonij Cornelisz de Man (1652–1734) and Johannes Cornelis de Man (1660–1716), in 1670 the only living sons of the apothecary. The painter Cornelis de Man (sitting at the table) can be identified from a self-portrait in the collection of the Delft Museum Prinsenhof and a drawing by Taco Hajo Jelgersma. His father, Willem Cornelisz de Man (d. 1666), and his late brother Anthony Willemsz de Man (1625–1659), were also gold- and silversmiths in Delft.

137 In Wijnhaven 7 (034D409), direct behind Spoors's house, the goldsmith Corstiaen Quirijnsz van Borselen (d. 1624) had lived. After his death this house probably was combined with the apothecary In de Spiegel, Wijnhaven 6 (034D408). See ‘Wijnhaven 6–7’; and Bosman-Jelgersma, op. cit. (134), pp. 147–148.

138 Johannes Verkolje lived at the Wijnhaven in the house De Swaen (‘the Swan’), nowadays numbers 8–9 (034D410). The house had a wicket-gate at the Oude Delft, next to Spoors's former house.

139 Wijnhaven 5 (034D406). A catalogue of Van Beest's library is in the Delft archive, ‘weeskamer’ No 3422.

140 See, ‘Wijnhaven 4’ (034D405).

141 Catalogvs … librorvm … Cornelii van der Heyden, Delphenis Medicinae Doctoris, Leiden, 1646. KB Copenhagen, 79II 39 3:8.

142 Wheelock, op. cit. (2). Liedtke, op. cit. (2). De Boer, op. cit. (2).

143 Houckgeest exchanged Delft for Steenbergen in 1651; De Witte moved to Amsterdam in the same year, whereas De Man travelled for nine years through France and Italy, returning home in 1653. Cf. van de Bergh Rochus J., ‘Gerard Houckgeest (±1600–1661), schilder en etser’, De Waterschans (1995) 5, pp. 4348.

144 Van Vliet entered the St Luke Guild in 1632, Houckgeest before 1639, De Witte and De Man both in 1642. After 1650, when the new awareness of perspective already had been launched, Vermeer (1653) and De Hooch (1655) joined the guild. De Man and Vermeer even shared the position of headman of the guild in 1662 and 1672. Montias John Michael, Vermeer and His Milieu: A Web of Social History, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1989.

145 Between 1630 and 1650 we have identified the following mathematically trained practitioners in Delft: (1) Pieter Jansz Verhouck (d. 1639), was a surveyor from 1591; (2) Jacob Mattijsz de Been, member of the St Luke Guild since 1613 as an engraver and goldsmith, surveyor of Delftland since 1620, lived at the Oude Delft, at the corner of the Baljuwsteeg, across the Bagijnhof; (3) Johan van Beest (d. 1648) living in the Wijnhaven, was a surveyor in Delft from 1627; (4) Nicolaas Jansen de Weerdt, admission as surveyor Breda 1623, worked in Delft from 1631, in 1641 stood witness at the baptism, together with Ariaentgen de Roon, of the sister of Jacob Spoors; (5) Jacob Spoors, surveyor in 1622, worked in Delft from 1636; (6) Dirck de Vos (d. before 1665), admitted as a surveyor in Delft 1642 (trained by De Weerdt), lived in the Vlamingstraat. An interesting person is also Cornelis Damen Rietwijck (c.1590–1660), a portrait painter who entered the St Luke Guild in 1638. In the years 1650–1659 he operated a drawing school at the Voldersgracht, where he also taught elementary mathematics to youngsters. Montias, op. cit. (144), p. 65. See also Zandvliet, op. cit. (6).

146 Ruurs R., ‘Pieter Saenredam: his books and his relationship with the surveyor Pieter Wils’, Oud Holland (1983) 97, pp. 5968.

147 On the entwinement of perspective and optics in painting see Dupré Sven, ‘The historiography of perspective and reflexy-const in Netherlandish art’, in Jorink Eric and Ramakers Bart (eds.), Art and Science in the Early Modern Netherlands, Netherlands Yearbook for History of Art (2011) 61, pp. 1934.

148 Muller and Zandvliet, op. cit. (51), p. 152.

149 See, for instance, Kersten et al., op. cit. (105).

150 Cornelis Willemsz de Man (1621–1706) was the son of the silversmith Willem Cornelisz de Man (d. 1666) and Sara Doe de Vries van Bolgersteijn (d. 1682). He was the grandson of the founder of the apothecary In de Spiegel. An overview of De Man's oeuvre is given by Brière-Misme Clotilde, ‘Un émule de Vermeer et de Pieter de Hooch: Cornélis de Man’, Oud Holland (1935) 52, pp. 126, 97–120, 281–282, who, however, has made several mistakes concerning De Man's family relations. See also Kersten et al., op. cit. (105), pp. 83–85; 190–197; Laura Michelle Bassett, ‘The paintings and career of Cornelis De Man: art and mercantile culture in seventeenth-century Delft’, PhD dissertation, University of Michigan, 2003; and Martine Lambrechtsen, ‘Cornelis de Man (1621–1706): een selectie uit het oeuvre van een veelzijdige Delftse schilder’, master's thesis, University of Amsterdam, 2005.

151 In 1633 Maria Cornelisdr de Man married Jacobus Crucius (Jacques de la Croix), from 1616 rector of the Delft Latin school. As such Crucius was a colleague of Isaac Beeckman, who had the same position at the Latin School in Dordrecht. Crusius dedicated one of his neo-Latin books to his colleagues, including Beeckman. According to De Waard, this book (Epistolarum libri IV, Delft, 1633), served only ‘as a specimen of Crusius’ eloquence and erudition’. Cf. De Waard, op. cit. (1), vol. 4, pp. 209, 219, 229.

152 Welu James, ‘Vermeer's astronomer: observations on an open book’, Art Bulletin (1986) 68, pp. 263267. Van Beest's library (see n. 139 above) indeed contained several editions of Metius's Institutiones.

153 Vermeer Sr used Pieter Everts van Steenwijck to confirm his testimony on the whereabouts of his colleague painter Jan Baptista van Fornenburgh. Statement made on 7 September 1640. Montias, op. cit. (144), pp. 70–71, 346.

154 Kunstmuseum Basel, inv. No 1373.

We acknowledge the help of the employees of the City Archive Delft. Without their wonderful digitized projects, among which is the Historic GIS, much of this paper could not have been written. Our gratitude goes also to Albert van Helden for his comments and improvement of our English.

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