Essential Architecture-  Amsterdam


Kloveniersburgwal 29, Trippen House (1660/62)

Kloveniersburgwal 29

The brothers Louys and Hendrick Trip habitually referred to themselves as ‘arms dealers in the service of peace’. For their Latin motto they had appropriately chosen ‘Ex Bello Pax’ which means so much as ‘Peace as a result of War’. As we shall see, the iconography of their town mansion served to underline this corporate identity.

Louys (1605-1684) and Hendrick (1607-1666) arrived in Amsterdam circa 1630. The exact date is not known. Their line of business was dealing in iron and weapons. Louys was a man of considerable social status, judging form the fact that three times over he was elected burgomaster of Amsterdam (in 1674, 1676 and 1679). Louys was married to Emerentia Hoefslager (1614-1673); Hendrick’s spouse was Johanna de Geer (1627-1691), the niece of his most powerful competitor Louis de Geer. De Geer owned a splendid mansion on 123 Keizersgracht, the famous House with the Heads. The Trip Bros. rose to the challenge and jointly commissioned an even more splendid house from the architect Justus Vingboons (1620/21-1698), brother to the well-known Philips Vingboons. Within a period of two years (1660-1662) a veritable palace, the largest mansion of the prestigious Amsterdam ring of canals was built. It would be more correct, however, to speak of the Trippen Houses, in the plural, since Vingboons built two separate houses, one for each of the brothers, which share a single roof and a single facade.

Sketch of the Trippen House
by Justus Vingboons

Justus Vingboons designed a cornice front with a colossal order of eight Corinthian pilasters. The entire facade, one of the most impressive pilaster facades in Amsterdam, was built of sandstone imported from Bremen and Bentheim. The Trippen House is one of the very last representatives of the Palladian version of Dutch Classicism. The central section of the facade consists of a large triangular fronton supported by four pilasters. On each side the central section is flanked by two additional pilasters. This set-up creates a palatial atmosphere. The use of Corinthian, fluted pilasters was quite unique. This kind of classical order was generally considered far to grandiose for the house of an ‘ordinary’ Amsterdam citizen. The original plan to add a dome-shaped tower to the house, comparable to the structure crowning the new town hall, was abandoned. Probably building such a dome, supported only by the partition wall between the two houses, was considered too risky after all.

Hendrick lived on the left hand side, Louys on the right hand side. It is likely they flipped a coin to determine where they were going to live. The symmetrical structuring of the classicist pilaster facade has been taken to extremes here: the wall separating one house from the other cuts the window section in half. According to the strict rules of classical architecture it was out of the question to have a pilaster coincide with the central axis of the facade. The total number of pilasters must be an even number and therefore one naturally ends up with a window in the middle (originally the central windows were dead windows).

Corner chimney

The ornamentation of the facade reflects the corporate identity of the Trip Bros. Garlands of fruit decorate the window piers. Palm leaves and olive branches, symbols of peace, take up a central position. The brothers certainly did not flinch from openly displaying their line of business. The chimneys at the corners of the roof are shaped like mortars. The tympanum as well as the back elevation display the family coat of arms, three ‘tripjes’ (a ‘tripje’ is a type of wooden sandal). Moreover, the tympanum crowning the facade is decorated with four gun barrels as well as a number of bullets.

In 1730 Elisabeth van Loon renovated the house on the right, originally Louys’ abode, in Louis XIV style. As part of this project a corridor with stucco decoration became an integral part of the house. At the same time the voorhuis was modified. Elisabeth did not stay long (1730- 1733). The house on the left retained more of its original interior.

Kloveniersburgwal 29, Trippen House (1660/62)

of the first floor

Behind the stylish facade there are two identical houses, which are each other’s mirror images. Louys lived on the right hand side and Hendrick on the left hand side. Each of the houses had its own entrance and voorhuis. The voorhuizen, paved with clinkers, served as coach houses and office space. Two courtyards separate the voorhuizen from the achterhuizen. The toilets, were normally located in the courtyard. Only the house on the right has retained this facility in its original set-up. Several rooms, a dining room among others, make up the achterhuis facing the garden. An elegant staircase leads to the upper floors.


The first floor, the piano nobile, is the main floor of the house. This is where the Trips received their guests. The staircase, therefore, was richly decorated. Elegantly painted birds were uncovered during the restoration of 1988-1991 and partly restored to their former beauty. Each of the houses has a great room on the first floor of the voorhuis equipped with a monumental fire place and well-suited for large receptions. A corridor and staircase are located behind the great room. Also on the first floor, but in the achterhuis, we find the master bedroom a smaller anteroom and a wardrobe. Allard van Everdingen (1621-1675) did the paintings above the doors in the corridors. The Swedish connections of the Trips formed his subjects (a Scandinavian landscape and a foundry).

Ceiling of the Great Room

The decorations, especially the top quality paintings, on the first floor are well worth studying. The great room of the house on the left hand side has a coffered ceiling, decorated by the painter Nicolaas de Heldt Stockade (1614-1669). Bacchus, Ceres and Mars are the protagonists while putti hold the coats of arms of Hendrick Trip and Johanna de Geer as well as a mortar. Mars, the war god, is in chains. Remember that the Trips looked upon themselves as ‘arms dealers in the service of peace’. The painted ceilings in the great room of Louys’ house are lost. The master bedrooms in both houses have painted ceilings with putti and garlands of flowers and centre pieces with human figures. Ferdinand Bol (1616-1680), who belonged to Rembrandt’s school and who also contributed to the decoration of the new town hall, was hired to paint group portraits of both families as well as some other scenes. Unfortunately, only the anteroom of the house on the right has retained Bol’s original painting.

Pillars which originally
formed part of the fire places

In circa 1816 Abraham van der Hart renovated both houses. He connected the great rooms on the first floor by removing the partition wall. As a consequence both fire places had to be pulled down. The pillars which flanked the mantle pieces were put next to the doors giving access to the rooms at the back of the house. Between 1817 and 1885 the Trippen House accommodated the collection of the present Rijksmuseum. The great room of the house on the left was then the home of Rembrandt’s Nightwatch. When the Trippen House was restored in 1988-1991, the partition wall was rebuilt but a passage between the two rooms remained.


Special thanks to the Amsterdam Bureau of Monuments and Archeology website,