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Vermeer's Delft: Yesterday & Today

in collaboration with Adelheid Rech

Delft's establishment as one of Holland's oldest cities is unique due to its geography. Unlike many Dutch cities that developed around waterways, Delft was situated in a reclaimed land area, characterized by an irregular pattern of water channels leading to the Maas River. Over time, the land where Delft was founded accumulated sand and clay, creating a stable foundation for stone construction. While initially at a lower elevation, the city's ground level rose above the surrounding farmlands due to the soil's compaction as the land was drained by canals.Walter Liedtke, Michiel C. Plomp, and Axel Rüger, Vermeer and the Delft School (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2001), xx.

"Delft's era as an artistic hub was notably short-lived, beginning in the mid-1640s and fading after the 1660s, with Johannes Vermeer being an exceptional figure beyond this period. In the early seventeenth century, Delft's strength was in portrait painting with artists like Michiel van Mierevelt. The influx of Flemish artists did not significantly alter this, as Delft lacked the kind of influential artists found in other Dutch cities, potentially due to its conservative culture which favored craftsmanship over innovation, which may have impeded the development of the dynamic Baroque style flourishing elsewhere.

"By 1640, the artists in Delft had yet to form a cohesive school of painting, operating independently without significant influence on each other. It was only in the late 1640s and early 1650s that shared interests and trends began to emerge, particularly with the arrival of artists like Paulus Potter (1625–1654), Emanuel de Witte (1617–1692), Carel Fabritius (1622–1654), and Pieter de Hooch (1629–1684). This group, including Delft natives like Gerard Houckgeest (c. 1600–1661) and later Vermeer, developed a mutual appreciation for light, air, and perspective, and is commonly refered to as the School of Delft, " recognized for its classicizing tendencies that appealed to the local elite's preference for fine craftsmanship. However, this artistic community was fragile and quickly declined with the deaths and departures of key figures. By 1660, many talents had moved to Amsterdam, and Vermeer's leadership role in the guild saw a diminished group. The decline continued with the city's focus shifting towards its faience industry, and despite the presence of some talented artists, the innovative spark had largely been lost. Vermeer remained a notable exception, continuing his work in Delft even as others left for greater opportunities."John Michael Montias, "Painters in Delft, 1613-1680," Simiolus: Netherlands Quarterly for the History of Art 10, no. 2 (1978-1979): 84-114.

In an age when every self-respecting painter had to travel to Rome in order to drench himself in the immortal works of Raphael (1483–1520), Titian (c. 1488/1490–1576) and Michelangelo (1475–1564), it is surprising to note that not a single one of the great masters responsible for the rise of Dutch Golden Age of painting felt the need to go to Italy. Esaias van de Velde (1587–1630), Jacob van Ruisdael (c. 1628/1629–1682), Frans Hals (c. 1582/1583–1666), Rembrandt van Rijn (1606–1669), Jan Steen (1626–1679) and Vermeer all stayed in the Netherlands, close to their home, painting for their local market.

Voldersgrach, Delft
A view of the Voldersgracht, the small street
where Vermeer was born

Vermeer seems to have passed his entire life in his home town Delft—we know only that he made a brief trip to Amsterdam and The Hague in his last years. Some art historians believe that the artist studied painting in Amsterdam or in Utrecht although there exists no documentary proof in regards. In any case, Vermeer must have loved his home town. His two "portraits" of Delft, the majestic View of Delft, a hymn to civic pride and nature, and the humble Little Street, which narrates the intimate life as seen across an inner-city canal, are tangible proof of this deep attachment. It is also known that Vermeer painted another landscape of Delft, a "view of a house standing in Delft" as it was described in the 1696 Amsterdam auction

the Delft train station
A lone biker at the train station gets ready to take a tour of Delft (the leaning spire of the Oude Kerk can be seen in the distance).

Delft's past was long and glorious. It was the third city of Holland to receive a municipal charter, in 1246, and it remained in the forefront of Dutch history for several centuries. As well as being a center of resistance and headquarters for William the Silent or William I, Prince of Orange (1533–1584) during the war with Spain, it was the birthplace of William and one of the war's military heroes; Hugo Grotius (1583–1645), jurist and statesman who established the principles of international law, and the scientist Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (1632–1723), one of the first microbiologists. When Holland began to flourish in the late sixteenth century, Delft shared the new prosperity.

The World of Vermeer: 1632–1675

from: Hans KoningsbergerHans Koningsberger, The World of Vermeer: 1632–1675 (New York: Time-Life Books, 1967), 58–58.

The center of old Delft is the market, which is shown as a white oblong rectangle in the middle of Johan Blaeu's plan of Delft, is de Markt, or market square. The square is not particularly large, but it is dramatic because it is the only wide-open, ornamental space within a medieval huddle of houses. Old Delft, which had about 23,000 inhabitants in 1630, two years before Vermeer was born, actually boasts only three or four real streets; the rest are alleys and canals. The canals were the arteries of Delft, carrying its trade and also its visitors; in fact, Holland's waterways were its safest and smoothest channels of transportation until well into the nineteenth Century. Marcel Proust described one such waterway after visiting Delft: "An ingenious little canal dazzled by the pale sunlight; it ran between a double row of trees stripped of their leaves by summer's end and stroking with their branches the mirroring windows of the gabled houses on either bank."

Delft light
The light of Delft on houses reflected in one of the numerous canals

Now these narrow canals lie quiet under their humpbacked bridges, but they are still used to carry supplies to the flower market, the butter-and-cheese market and the fish market, all located along the waterside. They are almost straight, but their slight bends provide surprising changes in the fall of the light, which is confined by the houses, reflected in windows and water and sifted through the canopy of the trees.

The light of Delft! Thousands of words have been written about it and its real or imagined secrets. The French playwright and poet Patil Claude wrote that it was "the most beautiful light in existence." Considered coldly, there is no reason why the light of Delft should be different from the light of The Hague or Rotterdam. But the old town is so still, even today the heavy foliage, the dark water and the old brick walls envelop it so beautifully that its light, many times reflected and filtered, does seem different once it has reached the level of the eye; it seems to have an especially soft, fluid quality.

Perhaps it is not only Delft, not just the trees or canals, which make this light so special, but also Vermeer. As Stratford-on-Avon or Walden Pond may move the visitor in a manner which has nothing to do with their physical appearances, so the light of Vermeer's town has been given a magical connotation by his work.

"While contemplating period paintings of the silent Oude Delft canal, the grizzly "snapshot" of the Delftse Donderslag by Egbert Lievensz. van der Poel (1654–1660), a stately Delft church interior or Vermeer's View of Delft, the casual viewer may wonder how these places might appear today. What has changed in the course of 300 years and exactly what remains of the past? With an improvised tour guide composed of paintings, engravings and descriptions of Delft, we stand a fair chance of finding at least a few answers.

First of all, how well is Delft conserved? "In the second half of the seventeenth century (about the time Vermeer's career was taking off) Amsterdam and Rotterdam had taken over more and more of the nation's trade because of their excellent ports—while Delft slowed down. Its famous pottery industry continued to flourish, but other businesses languished. The number of breweries in the city shrank from more than 100 to 15. It became the home of retired people and a stronghold of conservative Calvinism. Gradually, the once-vigorous city went into a decline that left it virtually dormant until the 19th century.

The one lucky result of this misfortune is that the heart of Delft today looks very much as it did in Vermeer's day, since, by the time the town came to light again, men had learned to value and preserve the architectural heritage of the past. Thus, Delft still has a few acres of houses, churches, canals and squares which lead us straight into Vermeer's world."Hans Koningsberger, The World of Vermeer: 1632–1675 (New York: Time-Life Books, 1967), 57.

Unfortunately, some of the original buildings which played key roles in the life and work of the artist have been demolished even though some of their original locations can be pinpointed with security. The Nieuwe Kerk (New Church), the Oude Kerk (Old Church) and the Stadhuis (City Hall) do still stand in all their glory, but the private dwellings of Vermeer and his extended family, and the Guild of St. Luke where he fraternized with his colleagues, have long since been torn down.

In any case, the gleaming city we see in Vermeer's View of Delft must not have been what the painter and his contemporaries always experienced. "We know that in those days, there were dozens of potteries in the city. Then there were also the many distilleries, breweries, and soap-rendering plants. Clouds of smoke from working ovens must have hung over the city almost constantly. Many products also had to be cooked or smoked, so fires would have been burning all the time. And all of this within Delft city center, where people lived and worked."Ingrid van der Vlis et al., "In the Footstep of Vermeer," in Vermeer's Delft, edited by David de Haan, Arthur K. Wheelock Jr., Babs van Eijk, and Ingrid van der Vlis (Zwolle: Waanders Uitgevers, Museum Prinsenhof Delft, 2023), 133.

"Moreover, in the midst of the town was a burial ground, and the absence of a sewerage system led to an unbearable stench. City ordinances reveal various strategies to address this issue. The city governors set and enforced numerous regulations to manage waste. There was even a recycling station in the fifteenth century, known as de Stille Putten (the silent pits), for waste processing. Dung collectors and street sweepers gathered waste from designated spots and took it to this station. Specific types of waste, like ashes and feces, were to be placed in 'ash baskets.' This collected waste was then sold, turning city cleanliness into a profitable venture. Despite these measures, the city continued to suffer from foul odors, necessitating constant updating of the rules. For example, fishmongers were forbidden from discarding offal into the canals, yet collectors regularly removed such waste. Similarly, residents were not allowed to sweep household dirt or dump privy contents into the canals, but frequent reminders indicated these practices were common."Ingrid van der Vlis et al., "In the Footstep of Vermeer," in Vermeer's Delft, edited by David de Haan, Arthur K. Wheelock Jr., Babs van Eijk, and Ingrid van der Vlis (Zwolle: Waanders Uitgevers, Museum Prinsenhof Delft, 2023), 129.

Vermeer places in DelftA detail of the Kaart Figuratief which shows the Markt in the center of Delft (the entrance to the towering Nieuwe Kerk on the top) where much of Vermeer's personal and professional life took place

A. Flying Fox (Vermeer's presumed birthplace and inn of his father)
B. The Delft Guild of St. Luke (professional organization of artists and artisans)
C. Mechelen (a large tavern on the Market Square rented by his father where Vermeer and his family lived after the Flying Fox
D. Oud Langendijck (studio & living quarters where Vermeer resided with his wife, children and mother-in-law, Maria Thins)

The Museum Het Prinsenhof in Delft, established in 1911, offers a unique journey through the history of the Netherlands, the city of Delft, and the renowned Delftware. This museum is ensconced in a structure of monumental historical significance, a backdrop to some of the most pivotal events in Dutch history. Formerly the court of William of Orange, known as the Father of the Dutch Nation, the building's walls bear witness to the nation's storied past. Visitors can explore the significant role that Delft's citizens played in Dutch history and the evolution of Delftware into the globally recognized brand it is today. Originally erected as a monastery in the Middle Ages, the edifice later became the residence of William the Silent. His assassination at the Prinsenhof in 1584 is etched into history, with bullet holes from the tragic event still visible on the main staircase.

address: Sint Agathaplein 1, 2611 HR Delft

opening hours:
Tuesday to Sunday from 11 a.m.–5 p.m.

during school holidays:
Monday to Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
closed on Christmas Day (27 April), Christmas Day and New Year's Day

The Vermeer Centrum Delft, a volunteer-run organization, offers insights into the life and work of Johannes Vermeer, showcasing his painting techniques and displaying reproductions of his masterpieces. In addition to educational exhibits, the center features a shop with an array of Vermeer-inspired merchandise. More than eighty passionate volunteers operate the center, which stands on the historic site of the former Guild of Saint Luke, once presided over by Vermeer himself as the head painter.

Voldersgracht 21, Delft

openings times:
opened daily from 10 a.m. to 5 pm.
open on 24 and 31 December from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
open on 26 December and 1 January from 12 a.m. to 5 p.m.
closed on 25 December

Free guided tours on Friday and Sunday
Friday at 11:30 a.m. (Dutch)
Sunday at 10:30 a.m. (English)
Sunday 12 a.m. (Dutch)

The shop and Café Mechelen have the same opening times.

For information on opening time and tickets, click here.

Delft's main market, known locally as "de Markt," attracts visitors from afar as well as from neighboring cities such as The Hague and Rotterdam. Situated between City Hall and the magnificent Nieuwe Kerk, the market opens every Thursday. Here, a bustling array of over 150 stalls offer a variety of items including cheese, fish, vegetables, bread, nuts, and other foodstuffs, alongside clothing, bicycle accessories, and electronic gadgets. Encircling the market, a selection of pubs and open-air terraces provide idyllic spots to relax and enjoy a cup of coffee.

A short five-minute stroll from the general market is the Brabantse Turfmarkt, home to the flower market. This vibrant segment of Delft is adorned with numerous flower merchants presenting an array of thousands of flowers. On Saturdays, this venue also hosts a smaller iteration of the general market, featuring around 50 stalls.

Equally captivating is the weekly art and antiques market, a haven for tourists seeking to absorb the city's charm and scour for unique finds. This market is available on Thursdays and Saturdays from April to October. On Thursdays, you can find it alongside the canal in Hippolytusbuurt street. Come Saturday, the market expands to include a book market and extends along the Voldersgracht as well as the canals within Hippolytusbuurt and Wijnhaven, creating a delightful maze of vintage and antique treasures.

The Great Fire

Two dates crucial for the shape and socio-economic development of the city of Delft must be considered: the first is the Great Fire on May 3, 1536, caused by a bolt of lightning that struck the tower of Nieuwe Kerk. Part of the wooden tower was burned down and the organ, bells and the stained-glass windows were lost. Fanned by a strong east wind, the fire ravaged virtually everything west of the Nieuwe Kerk (houses of the time were mainly built with timber). Few of these buildings, which gave Delft its medieval character, withstood the fire.John Michael Montias, Vermeer and His Milieu: A Web of Social History (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1989), 3. The residents of Delft rebuilt their city with stone instead of wood. It also meant that few current buildings pre-date the fire. An anonymous painted copy of a map of Delft (fig. 1), complete in its details, illustrates the devastation's extent. This map also serves as an invaluable source for locating cloisters and convents and other public houses whose ruins gradually vanished with the reconstruction of the city. The painting represents nearly every house and church, whether still intact (signaled by the red of the roofs) or as a ruin.

"In the next forty years, the reconstruction of the Nieuwe Kerk and scores of houses in brick and mortar absorbed the energies of the city's citizens and depleted their resources. In the 1540s and 1550s, stately houses went up around the Groote Markt (Great Market Square) near the Nieuwe Kerk, along the Oude Delft canal, and in other neighborhoods where many dwellings had been burned down, These were the new houses, built along tree-lined canals, where wealthy citizens lived, whom common people said, 'sat on cushions and ruled the city.'"John Michael Montias, Vermeer and His Milieu: A Web of Social History (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1989), 3.

Plan of Delft after the Fire of 1563fig. 1 Map of Delft after the fire in 1536
Stedelijk Museum Het Prinsenhof, Delft
(Dirck Evertsz. van Bleyswijck junior (1639–1681), who was
born to a prominent Delft family, was once the owner of the map.)

The Delft Powder Explosion

The Delft Powder Explosion (detail), Egbert van der Poelfig. 2 The Delft Powder Explosion (detail)
Egbert van der Poel
Oil on wood, 36.2 x 49.5 cm.
National Gallery, London

The second catastrophe which shaped the topography of Delft was the infamous explosion of the gunpowder magazine, called the Delftse Donderslag, on Monday, October 12, 1654. About 40 tonnes (80,000 to 90,000 pounds) of black powder of the Netherlands' gunpowder reserve, which was kept in barrels in a storage magazine in a former Clarissen convent (Poor Clares) exploded at half-past ten in the morning.

The story goes that Cornelis Soetens, the keeper of the magazine, opened the store to make his weekly check a sample of the powder. "Soetens was accompanied by a colleague from The Hague, wearing a red cloak, and by a servant. A lantern was lit, a door to the store was opened, and Soetens's companion handed his fine cloak to the servant so that it wouldn't get dirty and told him to take it home. The two men went in and down the dark stairs to collect their sample. Some minutes passed. It was still an ordinary Monday morning in Delft. Five huge successive explosions merged with one another.

The earth shuddered and shuddered again. Flames rose and an intense heat fanned out in a searing wave."Anthony Bailey, Vermeer: A View of Delft (New York: Holt Paperbacks, 2002), 7. The explosion was so strong that it slammed shut doors in nearby towns and was said to have been heard as far away as the island of Texel, seventy miles north of Delft. The anchor of a ship was found 900 meters away. Large trees were sheared off to stumps, and the stained glass and roof of the Nieuwe Kerk were destroyed.

Once again, several parts of the town were reduced to rubble. More than one hundred people were killed and many more wounded.

Fortunately, a significant number of citizens were away, either visiting a market in Schiedam or attending a fair in The Hague. But Carel Fabritius, Vermeer's colleague and Rembrandt's most talented pupil, who had lived with his family in the Doelenstraat nearby the gunpowder magazine, died at his easel while working on a portrait, and along with him, a portion of his limited body of work was lost. A baby girl was rescued after 24 hours. She was still sitting in her high chair, still clutching an apple and smiling. Despite the initial Herculean effort to clear the rubble and rescue those trapped underneath, only a few survived. The recriminations came later. A Protestant preacher strongly criticized the city authorities, claiming that they had granted excessive freedom to Catholics.

View of Delft after the Explosion of the Gunpowder Arsenal in 1654, Herman Saftleven IIfig. 3 View of Delft after the Explosion of the Gunpowder Arsenal in 1654
Herman Saftleven II
Black chalk, pen and brown ink, brush and brown wash on two sheets of paper, 24.9 x 74.9 cm.
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

"Recording the News: Herman Saftleven's View of Delft After the Explosion of the Gunpowder Arsenal in 1654," Metropolitan Museum Journal, v. 31, 1996.

Carolyn LoganCarolyn Logan, "Recording the News: Herman Saftleven's View of Delft After the Explosion of the Gunpowder Arsenal in 1654," Metropolitan Museum Journal 31 (1996). Accessed October 29, 2023.

A drawing (fig. 3) by the Dutch artist Herman Saftleven (1609–685) recently acquired by the Metropolitan Museum illustrates how a leading draftsman in seventeenth-century Holland recorded a contemporary event of catastrophic proportions. As indicated in the inscription, it represents the city of Delft after the explosion of the gunpowder arsenal of the States General on October 12, 1654. Salient points of interest are marked with letters and described in the legend below:

A. is the hole or pool 13 feet deep and full of water where the tower had stood when I drew it on October 29 new style.

B. is the Nieuwe Kerk [New Church] where the glass was destroyed and a large hole torn in the roof and was very damaged, but the coats of arms and sepulcher and the ornament on his majesty's grave was not damaged.

C. is the Oude Kerk [Old Church] where the glass and the walls were torn away. I saw a remarkable thing in this church that the wall behind the arms of Admiral Tromp was blown away but the arms were not damaged, also those of Admiral Pi et Heinz were similarly not damaged.

D. is the place where the Militia Hall stood and also where the maid of the Militia Hall was pulled out fully clothed from under the stones on October 27 so miserable from having been buried.

E. the trees which stand on the city walls were little or not at all damaged.

Saftleven's drawing is the earliest known record of the devastation, showing Delft as it looked only seventeen days after the catastrophe.

Delft After the Explosion of the Gunpowder Arsenal in 1654, Gerbrand van der Eeckhout
Delft After the Explosion of the Gunpowder Arsenal in 1654
Gerbrand van der Eeckhout
Probably late 1654
Pen and brown ink, gray wash over black chalk, 10.9 x 13.6 cm.
Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

The dubious honor of storing such a frightening amount of explosive material had fallen to Delft because it was protected by firm ramparts. At the time Delft boasted walls, eight gates and twenty-four to twenty-six turrets for its defense system. Only the Oostpoort, dating from the fourteenth-fifteenth century, survives in its picturesque setting. The powder magazine (it was one of the five in Delft) also known as 't Secreet van Holland, as it was partly underground and concealed by trees and bushes and was largely unknown to the citizens of Delft.

News of the event quickly spread throughout the country. The States General sent a message of condolence, Queen Elizabeth of Bohemia visited, and most likely many others came to assess the extent of the damage.

the Great Fire of Delft, 1536 Detail from the map, showing the Market Place with Nieuwe Kerk (tower, roof and window-panes demolished) and the old city hall, which in 1618–20 was rebuilt by Hendrick de Keyser to its present form.

And with the city's reconstruction, opportunities to make much money abounded. Aside from the work of reconstruction and repair, illustrated pamphlets dedicated to this tragedy were sold to the curious. A close neighbor of Fabritius, the painter Egbert van der Poel, miraculously survived but lost his daughter and most likely other family members. Van der Poel would furnish in the coming years at least 20 views (fig. 2) of the disaster as a sort of souvenir of the event, although it is unclear whether the artist personally witnessed it. He eventually became known as the painter of brandjes (little fires), "the best painter of fire in all of the Netherlands."Walter Liedtke, Michiel C. Plomp, and Axel Rüger, Vermeer and the Delft School (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2001), 236.

Council Hall ('Raadszaal') Delft
Upper part of one of the stained-glass windows in the Council Hall ('Raadszaal')
of the Town Hall showing two variations of the Delft coat of arms.
The dark beam in the middle symbolizes the Oude Delft canal, the origin of the city
of Delft.

A Timeline of The City of Delft: 1057-1836*

  • The city of Delft is born beside a canal, the Delf, a term which derives from the Dutch word "delven," meaning to "delve " or "dig." Or it may come from "Court of Delft:' the name of the body that administered the farmlands near the canal. Delft's establishment as one of the Netherlands' oldest cities is uniquely due to its geography. Unlike many Dutch cities that developed around waterways, Delft was situated in a reclaimed land area, characterized by an irregular pattern of water channels leading to the Maas River. Over time, the land where Delft was founded accumulated sand and clay, creating a stable foundation for stone construction. While initially at a lower elevation, the city's ground level rose above the surrounding farmlands due to the soil's compaction as the land was drained by canals.
  • In the 12th and 13th centuries, Delft is situated near three significant powers: the count of Holland, the count of Flanders, and the prince-bishop of Utrecht. The count of Holland, whose lineage traced back to vassals of the German emperor around 950 in northern Holland, often played a dominant and ambitious role. The count of Flanders is a vassal to the French king, while the prince-bishop of Utrecht, though politically weaker, has ecclesiastical jurisdiction that included Delft. Conflicts among these authorities are frequent.
  • After conquering Holland, around 1075, Godfrey III, Duke of Lower Lorraine (c. 997–1069) establishes his manor on an elevated point where the Delf crosses the creek wall of the silted-up Gantel creek system (the largest tidal creek during the Late Iron Age and Roman period). While the land around Delft is good for grazing and for cultivating grains, the abundance of running water in the city will eventually allow two major industries to flourish: textile manufacturing and beer brewing. However, the combination of these two industries will also cause problems. The textile industry pollutes Delft's clean water, which is an essential ingredient for beer.
  • Around 1100, the Oude Delft is dug up in order to widen a section of the Gantel creek system and drain the surrounding land. When a second canal is dug parallel to the Delf at the end of the 12th century, the names Oude Delft and Nieuwe Delft are given to them (the latter nowadays bears successively the street named Lange Geer, Koornmarkt, Wijnhaven, Hippolytusbuurt, and Voorstraat). The land between the Oude Delft and Nieuwe Delft is raised with clay during the digging of the Nieuwe Delft. The remaining sandy ridge between the two canals is firm enough for driving the poles to build houses on. This forms the basis of the city . In the Golden Age, this higher-lying land in the center of the swampy city becomes a popular place to live for wealthy merchants. Many mansions, often the status of national monument, are still found on the Oude Delft. From a rural village Delft develops into a small city. Delft becomes an important market town, proven by the size of its central market square.
  • In 1200, the Stadhuis (City Hall) is built. It survives various expansions and renovations in the 1500s, and the city fire in 1536.
  • The oldest known brewery in The Netherlands, Heilige Geestkerkhof, dates to 1210.
  • In the 13th century, the Vliet waterway between Delft and The Hague is already heavily trafficked. In theory it is possible to sail from the north end of Delft all the way to Leiden. From there one could travel to Haarlem and Amsterdam via the Haarlemmermeer, or to Utrecht via the Oude Rijn. But there is an important obstacle in between them: the Leidschendam, over which larger ships have to transfer their cargo to barges on the other side. Moreover, the owners of the dam demand a fee.
  • On April 15, 1246, Count Willem II of Holland (1227–1256) grants Delft its city charter extending basic rights of self-government to the approximately 1,400 people living there, marking the official beginning of the city. Shortly thereafter, he communicates with the town's Magistrates and Citizens regarding the building of city defenses, involving land from the "Court of Delft." This implies that Delft had an organized administrative system and may have been granted city rights earlier. This organized system is also indicated by a document from about forty years prior, wherein Count Willem I referenced Delft's taxation system when conferring rights to the Egmond abbey. Trade and industry continue to flourish. Delft is then composed of three original grachten (inner-city canals) In the same years The Hague is small village now called the Oude Delft, Nieuwe Delft, and the Braantse Turftmarkt, Burgwal, and Verwersdijk. The charter exempts Delft's citizens from paying tolls in Willem's county, which gives a huge boost to trade. More importantly, the Delft residents will have a large degree of self-government in the field of regulations and law. The bailiff and seven aldermen may issue ordinances and try transgressions themselves. Initially, this city law only applies to the area of ​​the Nieuwe Delft, which is the canal along the current Koornmarkt, Wijnhaven, Hippolytusbuurt, and Voorstraat. In 1268, the residents along the Oude Delft receive the same privileges.
  • A weekly market is mentioned in city law as early as 1246. It is held at "Marktveld," and to this day—know as Markt or Market Square— takes place on the same day and in the same place. It is operated by or on behalf of Count Willem II of Holland, whose stewards collect money from the merchants who sell their wares there. The Count also owns the weigh house, the cloth hall and other buildings that are crucial to the economy of Delft. As the name suggests, Marktveld (market + field) was not paved, and since the terrain is relatively low, rain must have turned it into a plain of mud.
  • In 1246, the Oude Kerk (Old Church) is founded as St. Bartholomew's Church on the site of previous churches dating back up to two centuries earlier. The tower with its central spire and four corner turrets is added between 1325–1350. In the same year the June market of Delft begins.
  • In 1268 Floris V, Count of Holland extends the city Delft to the other side of the Oude Delft. The Count's permission specifies an exact distance from the Oude Delft between the Dirklangensteeg (then the Arnoudt Snemenbrug) and the Binnenwatersloot. Its eastern limit later becomes the bank of the singel, or outer moat.
  • As far back as the Middle Ages, streets in Delft are indicated by names to make it easy to find a particular house or its resident. The oldest known street name of Delft is Oude Delft, which already appears in a document from 1268. For centuries names rise and disappear by themselves. Everyday usage determines a street's name: soil conditions (think of the Rietveld); shape (Bree street); age (Oude and Nieuwe Langendijk) of an important building (Gasthuislaan, Oude Kerkstraat); activity (Voldersgracht, Verwersdijk, Smitsteeg) or a well-known resident (Dirklangenstraat, Harmenkokslaan, Jacob Gerritstraat).
  • In 1286, the Bagijnhof is founded by a group of lay religious women who lived in community without taking vows or retiring from the world, called beguines. Since Bagijnhof is privately owned the beguines are allowed to continue to live there after the Reformation takes hold of Delft, when all the Catholic monasteries present in the city will be destroyed or closed.. The Bagijnhof later becomes a stronghold of Roman Catholicism with two schuilkerken (secret churches).
  • Around 1300, an outer moat is dug as part of Delft's defenses.
  • Around 1300, a dam, called the Leytsche Dam, is constructed in the Vliet between Delfland and Rijnland to protect Delft against flooding, as part of the Sijtwende (flood defense). Unfortunately, it—the polder level in Rijnland is on average about 1 meter higher than that in Delfland—also has a negative effect because it prevents Delft from building a direct waterway connection to northern cities, such as Leiden, Haarlem, and Amsterdam. It will have a profound influence on the development of the area and will eventually become the cause of many disputes between surrounding cities.
  • In the 1300s and 1400s, an impressive number of decorated and illuminated manuscripts are produced in Delft.
  • Although the Zeevisch-Markt (Fish Market) building bears a plaque reading 1342, it is probably not founded in that year. Fish is already a substantial part of the menu for the first inhabitants of Delft, and it had already been traded for centuries in the surrounding areas.
  • In 1347, Margaretha van Beieren (1363–1424) grants permission to expand the Oude Delft> .
  • In 1348, the Voldersgracht and the Langendijk running east-west between the Nieuwe Delft gracht and the Oosteinde gracht complete the delineation of Markt Plein (Market Square) balanced on either end by the Stadhuis and the Nieuwe Kerk.
  • On January 1, 1350, the tower of Oude Kerk is completed, but it already leans. While the construction continues the builders attempt to compensate and straighten the inclination of the bell tower floor by floor. Today only the spires alone are truly straight. At the time, the 75-meters high tower dominated the surrounding landscape until it is overcome in the 1600s by the construction of the Nieuwe Kerk. Citizens of Delft affectionately refer to the church as Oude Jan (Old Jan ) or Scheve Jan (Crooked Jan).
  • In 1355, Willem V of Holland (1350-1389) grants the citizens of Delft permission to build bulwarks of earth around the area that the city had the rights to administer. The bulwarks are made from sand, clay, and silt accumulated when the waterways were dug. They are topped by stone and brick walls. The wide waterway ringing the bulwarks becomes known as the singel (belt). It is soon followed by completion of the first two city gates at the north and south end of the Oude Delft, the only navigable waterways into and out of the growing city. By this year Delft had the same boundaries and inner waterways that it would have three hundred years later
  • In 1381, construction of the Nieuwe Kerk (New Church) begins, following a miraculous appearance of the Virgin in 1381. Initially the church is built of wood. Three years later, construction begins in stone, in Gothic style, which will be completed in 1430. Construction of the stone tower continues for a century, between 1396 and 1496. When finished, it is 109 meters high. The nave and aisles are finished in the 1430s, the choir in 1476. The name of the architect is unknown. The original stained glass windows are destroyed in the 16th and 17th centuries.
  • In 1389, the city of Delft receives permission from Albert I, Duke of Bavaria (German; 1336–1404), the feudal ruler of Holland, to dig its own connection between the Schie and the Merwede (nowadays the Maas River), which provides an outlet to the Atlantic Ocean. During these years, Delft heavily depends on trade, especially the export of dairy and beer to Brabant, Zeeland, and Flanders; delays in shipping prove disastrous for such perishable goods. Additionally, raw materials must be imported to keep the local economy thriving. At the point where the canal crossed Schielands Hoge Zeedijk, Delft founds its own harbor: Delfshaven. Until then, ships had to sail to or from Delft, through Rotterdam or Schiedam. However, this route is winding, and inter-city conflicts sometimes close the vital passage of goods. When the canal is finished, Delft is able to send and receive seafaring vessels and avoid tolls levied by Rotterdam. In the same year, Duke Albrecht I establishes an elected water board. The project takes years to realize. But the canal is an enormous and complicated undertaking. Part of the Schie, from Delft to Overschie, could be used for the canal system, but some parts have to be dug. Land has to be purchased from many different owners; digging is done by hand. Quays are built on both sides of the canal, and a settlement is built at the mouth.
  • In 1394, Duke Albrecht I gives the citizens of Delft permission to build a new city wall.
  • In 1396, the construction of the Schiedam and Rotterdam Gates begins. It will take until after 1514 before they are completed.
  • Marktveld is shortened by approximately 34 meters to accommodate the construction of the Nieuwe Kerk.
  • Due to the scarcity of wood, from the 15th century the Netherlands is largely dependant on veer (peat) for or fuel. Peat is formed when dead plant material—especially from mosses—accumulates over time. When compressed and dried, it becomes turf, which makes an excellent fuel that burns slow and heats well without much smoke. The demand for peat in Delft is so intense that the surrounding countryside is unable to meet it, being as it is indispensable for energy supply; from domestic use to baker's ovens. Moreover, in Delft the most important economic sectors, brewery, and pottery, are huge energy guzzlers. Tons of peat have to be brought in by ship. By the end of the 19th century, peat is replaced by coal.
  • At the end of the 14th century, the Meisjeshuis is founded by well-known Delft resident. The building is initially called Heilige-Geestzustershuis (Holy Spirit Sister House), in which nurses take care of sick people. In 1587, it is transformed into an orphanage for poor girls. The orphanage has workshops and learning quarters where girls study religion, crafts, cooking, and mathematics.
  • Around 1400, the Oostpoort (Eastern Gate) is built. It is the only remaining gate of the old city walls. Around 1510, the towers are enhanced with an additional octagonal floor and high spires. At this time, Delft has around 6,500 inhabitants.
  • By the 1400s, the shape of the binnenstad, or inner city, of Delft comprises everything within the surrounding moat, which is wider than the canals inside the city. The city is roughly rectangular, about 1.6 km long and 0.8 km wide. The inner sides of the city's protective embankments are made of earth and a brick wall covered with thorn bushes. A number of windmills stand even taller than the embankments' towers, providing clear views of the surrounding countryside. Four of the gates are situated at the ends of major inter-city canals. For tax purposes, the city is divided into sixteen districts; for defensive purposes, four districts. The city gates are not open day and night. When dusk falls, the large doors are locked and cannot be opened again until sunrise. On Sundays and public holidays, the gates are closed during the sermon so that peace in the city is not disturbed. Only pedestrians can get in and out via the small door or latch—but no more horses, wagons, or carriages. Gatekeepers, who work in day and night shifts, supervise who enters or leaves the city.
  • Around 1400, a group of women in Delft chooses a spiritual life and moves from Geerweg to a house on Oude Delft, behind the tower of the Oude Kerk. Shortly afterward, they decide to close themselves off from the outside world as a monastic community to fill their lives with prayer, in absolute obedience to the leader, the mater (mother), without personal belongings and unmarried. They found the Agathaklooster (Convent of Saint Agatha) with the help of wealthy citizens in Delft, adopting the rules of the third order of Saint Francis. In 1402, they are placed under the protection of the Count of Holland, Duke Albert of Bavaria. The Bishop of Utrecht, as the head of Delft's diocese, formally establishes the convent in 1403. The Agathaklooster flourishes in the late 1400s, becoming the richest monastery in Delft and earning the right to house 125 nuns, who mostly come from patrician families. It also receives many distinguished guests in its guesthouse. Eight nuns still live in the cloister in 1607. The last of them is buried in 1640.
  • Delft pottery originates in the early 1400s. At this moment, very simple pottery is being produced in various places in the Netherlands, in small pottery factories established where clay is found and where there is a good supply of peat or wood for firing the kilns. Initially, the factories are only located in the west of Holland, but later spread throughout the country. To make these simple pottery objects, the clay, which is modeled into the desired shape, is first fired, creating a red/brown finish. Afterward, the objects are sometimes decorated with patterns in contrasting color schemes, with paint made of watery clay or slip. They are then given a transparent lead glaze and fired again to make them watertight and easier to keep clean. This lead glaze is relatively expensive, so the early pieces of pottery are only glazed in areas that could become easily dirty, such as a spout, the bottom, or the inside.
  • In 1412, a 17-meter strip of Marktveld is given over to serve as a cemetery in front of the Nieuwe Kerk, which stands until the 19th century. This cemetery continued under the market. In 2004, part of the cemetery was examined during an archaeological excavation in front of the entrance to the Nieuwe Kerk. During this investigation, a wall was found near the statue of Hugo de Groot that marked the western boundary of the cemetery. However, this wall was not found in the drainage trench. It now appears that the burials extended much further towards the town hall than this previously discovered boundary. Nothing was yet known about the southern edge of the cemetery. This new research shows that it extended laterally less than 3 meters from the facades of the houses along today's Market Square.
  • In 1421, significant floo disrups vital overland trade routes to the south of Delft, impacting the economy. During the 1400s, the prosperity of Rotterdam is closely connected to that of Delft, as the smaller and younger city along the Rotte River had recently been connected to Delft by a network of canals.
  • In 1436, Delft acquires the rights to the Marktveld from Duke Philip of Burgundy. The city council can now decide how the space is used and arranged.
  • On September 7, 1445, Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy (French: 1396–1467), issues a charter (Privilegie) for Delft city fathers, the vroedschap, to appoint the first Veertigraad, a 40-member council of the richest, most honorable, most notable men from regent families to help the schout (sheriff) and schepenen (magistrates) govern the city. The Veertigraad gradually cedes city management to the burgemeesters and pensionaris. Typically, a young man born into a regent family replaces a father or older brother who has died or, after the 1618 reorganization, reached the mandatory retirement age of 70.
  • In 1484, The Marktveld is paved for the first time, and the well that had always been there disappears. The site is raised by 90 centimeters, using the manure surplus from the surrounding area.
  • Around 1450, the St. Ursula Monastery is founded. The number of monasteries within the walls of Delft comes to ten, while there are two more outside the city walls: Koningsveld and the Monastery Sion to the north of the city.
  • In 1470, about 5% of the Delft population lives in monasteries, which occupy about 8% of the urban space.
  • In 1477, the first Bible in Dutch is published in Delft, and it is much smaller than the Gutenberg Bible, as only the Old Testament is printed. Yet its almost 1,300 pages require publication in two folio volumes. The text is an anonymous adaptation of an—again anonymous—translation. It is the first book to be printed by Jacob Jacobszoon van der Meer and Mauricius Yemantszoon van Middelburg, but the printer-financier relationship between the two is not clear.
  • In the later part of the 15th century, Haarlem, and Delft developed their own versions of a strong beer imported from Germany. Gouda specialized in a lighter, cheaper beer. Other Dutch towns soon impose excise taxes on beer from Gouda and Delft, just as these towns had done with German beer.
  • In the 16th century, the reputation of the monasteries among the population declines. Apart from the religious unrest caused by the Reformation movement, many people in Delft feel that there were too many monasteries. During the many years of economic setbacks and famine, people disapprove of the tax benefits that these institutions enjoyed.
  • Around 1500, there is a religious boom. Delft has two large parish churches, each with dozens of altars. About 150 priests earn a good living performing mass and other ceremonies in the service of the churches, brotherhoods, guilds, or wealthy families.
  • In 1503, a cult arises in the Oude Kerk in relation to a statue of Our Lady of Seven Sorrows. This devotion is stimulated by Duke Philip the Fair, who hopes to promote the sentiment of unity in the Netherlands by means of a "national" cult for the Virgin Mary. In Delft, the principal protagonist is Dirck Adamszoon van der Burch, vice-pastor of the Oude Kerk. He reports in letters to the court which miracles had occurred and how devotion had thrived. Pilgrims come from far and wide to partake in special masses, sermons, and processions.
  • In the 1500s, the municipal government and churches of Delft are more inclined to commission works of art from masters established in other cities than from those active locally. This is largely a consequence of the increasing importance of the Oude Kerk and the Nieuwe Kerk, which require objects grander and more public in nature than those produced by cloistered monks and nuns.
  • In the 1500s, the authorities and churches in Delft prefer to commission artworks from well-known artists in other cities rather than local talent. This trend is partly due to the prominence of the Oude Kerk and Nieuwe Kerk, which demand art that is more public and monumental than what monastic orders of Delft typically produced or required. Consequently, commissions for significant art pieces like large painted triptychs, sculptural groups, or substantial church furniture tend to go to experienced artists from bigger cities who have a track record of creating such works.
  • In 1510, the Nieuwe Kerk, which was formerly flanked by two rows of houses that had previously formed the boundary of the Marktveld, reaches its definitive size.
  • In 1514, the population of Delft is 10,700.
  • Around 1520, the renovation of the Oude Kerk comes to a standstill due to a lack of money. The colossal north aisle of the otherwise austere architecture marks the end of the rich Roman life of the Middle Ages.
  • On May 3, 1536, a large part of the city is destroyed by the Great Fire of Delft. The fire is said to have been caused by a bolt of lightning that struck the tower of Nieuwe Kerk, although some Delft historians believe this may be confused with another event on Ascension Day in 1441, when lightning struck the still-unfinished tower. An alternative version has it that on the day of the fire there is a strong westerly wind. A farmyard fire on the Buitenwatersloot may have gotten out of hand, and pieces of burning hay, straw, or reed were blown into the air. One house after another catches fire, and the fire spreads quickly eastward, up, and over the city wall. The Oude Kerk catches fire because the roof was then made of thatched hay. Part of the wooden tower burns down, and the organ, bells, and the stained-glass windows are lost. Fanned by a strong east wind, the fire ravages virtually everything west of the Nieuwe Kerk; houses of the time are mainly built with timber. Hundreds of families are forced to leave the city. Delft is rebuilt with stone instead of wood. Only a few buildings standing today pre-date the fire. Before the fire, the majority of the buildings of Delft featured predominantly late Gothic, Renaissance style, or a blend thereof, and substantial building and renovation activities occurred, coinciding with a robust economic expansion. However, these developments are confined within the Medieval city fortifications. This factor renders Delft's development distinctly divergent from that of other cities, such as Amsterdam, where, in the 17th century, suburban districts emerged, characterized by new canal rings.
  • In 1536, the population of Delft is 15,000.
  • In 1537, the plague strikes Delft. Over 2,000 people die.
  • In the 1540s and 1550s, stately houses go up around the Groote Markt (Great Market Square, Markt, or Market) near the Nieuwe Kerk, along the Oude Delft canal, and in other neighborhoods where many dwellings were burned down during the Great Fire. They changed little in plan, but their street facades—or orgevels—in Holland the "gables" rise from the ground—are constructed almost exclusively of stone, in a mixture of Late Gothic and Renaissance styles. The new houses built along tree-lined canals, where Delft’s rich burgers live, prompt the common people to quip: "they sit on cushions and rule the city." In this period, property owners in Delft, including those residing in the wealthier streets on the west side, are more concerned with roofs, walls, and stone facades than with home decoration.
  • In the second half of the 1500s, Delft’s two major industries—brewing and textile manufacturing—declined sharply, primarily because of competition from other towns and a spirit of free enterprise that did away with medieval systems of protecting trade. Moreover, the two products are also incompatible, as one polluted and the other required clean water. A number of other occupations, such as spinning, weaving, tailoring, peat-cutting, carting, and shipping, depended on the production of cloth and beer.
  • Between 1557 and 1558, the plague strikes again. About 6,000 people in Delft, or 20% of the population, die. According to the physician Pieter van Foreest (1521–1597), one of the most prominent physicians of the Dutch Republic, the plague that came to Delft in 1557 originated with the farmers from the surrounding countryside who supplied the town with produce.
  • From 1558 to 1595, Pieter van Foreest, one of the Netherlands' greatest doctors, served as Delft's doctor. While his colleagues based their practices on theories from classical antiquity, he modernized medical practices, publishing hundreds of case histories and describing in detail treatments and results. The University of Leiden, founded in 1575, engaged him to set up the medical training. He managed to persuade the city council of Delft to draft rules for the practice of medical professions and prevent quackery. He became the personal physician to William of Orange and conducted the investigation after the prince was murdered in 1584.
  • In 1560, the Vleeshal, or Meat Hall, is constructed. New neighborhoods and other civic buildings made during the early to mid-seventeenth century further contribute to Delft’s distinctive character. Much of the city's attraction for visitors comes from the fact that the squares and canals were bordered by buildings that date mostly from about 1550 to 1650. The population of Delft is 10,700.
  • In the mid-1560s, two great Dutch painters worked in Delft: Maerten van Heemskerck (1498–1574) and Jan van Scorel (1495–1562).
  • In 1565, a poor corn harvest strikes Delft.
  • In 1566, the Beeldenstor (in Dutch, roughly "image storm" or "statue storm") spreads to Delft, destroying many artworks in public and religious places. The Convent of Saint Agatha, however, is well protected and is spared.
  • In 1572, William of Orange (Willem van Oranje; 1533–1584) of the House of Orange took up residence in the former Convent of Saint Agatha, today’s Het Prinsenhof. By then, Delft is one of the leading cities of Holland and is equipped with the necessary city walls to serve as a headquarters.
  • 1568–1648: Duration of the Eighty Years' War. Delft is at the time one of the largest and most powerful cities in Holland. Early in the war, Protestant noblemen led by Willem of Orange, who desired to overthrow Spanish rule, styled themselves as Watergeuzen (Sea Beggars). In early July, they make their way north, capturing city by city. By the end of the summer, Delft joins the revolt, which soon includes the six largest cities of Holland: Dordrecht, Haarlem, Delft, Leiden, Gouda. Amsterdam is the last to join.
  • In 1572, Delft joins the revolt against Spain, and shortly afterward Calvinists take over the parish churches, abolish monasteries, and force priests and monks to renounce their faith or leave the city. Much of the Catholic heritage is destroyed or burned.
  • In October 1573, an attack by Spanish forces is repelled in the Capture of Delfzijl (The Battle of Delft). The battle is fought by a small Anglo-Dutch force under Thomas Morgan and an attacking Spanish force under Francisco de Valdez (Spanish; 1522?–580?). The Spanish are repelled and forced to retreat. The Spanish lose in all, around 700 men, mostly on the outskirts. Delft, among other Dutch towns and cities, had been saved, and this means that Leiden has a better hope of relief. After his initial attempts, Valdez informs the Duke of Alba of his defeat, showing him that victory could not be achieved without a larger force along with siege artillery. In the same year, The Kolk, which is a canalized watercourse on the south-western corner of the city walls, takes its initial triangular form from a bastion that had been constructed in 1573, when the city fortifications were modernized.
  • After the Act of Abjuration is proclaimed in 1581, Delft becomes the de facto capital of the newly independent Netherlands, as the seat of the Prince of Orange.
  • In 1583, the Dutch humanist, diplomat, lawyer, theologian, and jurist Hugo Grotius (1583–1645) is born in Delft. He lays the foundations for international law, and his concept of natural law has a strong impact on the philosophical and theological debates and political developments of the 17th and 18th centuries.
  • During the late 15th century, Delft is home to two notable painters, one of whom is referred to as the Master of the Virgin among Virgins. This anonymous artist, whose designation comes from a particular panel located in Amsterdam, has been linked to Delft through evidence of woodcuts based on his designs. These woodcuts were published by prominent Delft printers, including Jacob van der Meer—renowned for producing the Delft Bible in 1477, which was the first book printed in Dutch—and his successor, Christiaen Snellaert.
  • On 10 July, 1584, William is shot dead by the Roman Catholic zealot Balthazar Gerards in the Prinsenhof. Since the family's traditional burial place in Breda is still in the hands of the Spanish, he is buried in the Delft Nieuwe Kerk (New Church), inaugurating a tradition for the House of Orange that has continued to the present day. Willem's dream of religious tolerance is short-lived. Violence forces Catholics to give up their place of worship. Roman Catholic churches are seized and sacked. Works of art and liturgical objects that express "Popish idolatry" are destroyed in the iconoclastic fury. Catholics and adherents of other banned religions must resort to hidden and illegal churches in existing buildings. Initially, authorities take action against this phenomenon. Later governments take an increasingly pragmatic stance since it had become clear that a large part of the population would never join the Reformed Church—many government officials embrace the official church only to maintain their job and social position. The use of hidden churches is therefore increasingly tolerated. Around this time, Delft also occupies a prominent position in the field of printing. A number of Italian glazed earthenware makers settled in the city and introduce a new style.
  • At the end of the 16th century the status of Delft as a military stronghold has declined. By that time, the front gate of the Schiedam is already in ruin, and in 1590-1591, extensive renovations are carried out.
  • In 1591, Vermeer's father, Reynier Jansz. (c. 1591–1652), is born on Beestenmarkt number 14 in a house called Nassau, in Delft. His parents were the tailor Jan Reyersz., who had moved from Flanders to Delft by 1597 and Cornelia (alias Neeltge Goris, who died 1627). Neeltge Goris is active as uijtdraegster, or a second hand goods dealer, liquidating estates of deceased people. Paintings are frequently part of estates.
  • In 1592, a citizen of Antwerp, carpet and tapestry weaver François Spierinx (c.1576?-1630?), flees persecution in Antwerp and establishes his business in Delft. Delft offers him the vacant Saint Agnes Convent, near the East Gate, free of charge to stimulate the local tapestry business. Soon, great numbers of "embroiderers" and "tapestry-workers" flock from the South. Richly decorated pieces only appear at the end of the seventeenth century. However, this imported textile industry is only a moderate success. Other than Spierinx, only a few Delft cloth traders become rich. The industry is primarily intended to keep the poorest of the population off the street and offer women and children a meager additional income.
  • In 1592, Moijses van Nederveen receives permission from the Delft city council to set up a powder mill outside the Waterslootsepoort, just across the border from Delft in Vrijenban, roughly at the location of the current Kogelgieterij. In the powder mill, nitre, sulfur, and coal are mixed with horsepower to form gunpowder. This is a dangerous process. The mill will explode in 1604 and again in 1742.
  • In 1595, the Marktveld is repaved, in which a compass rose is installed in front of the Nieuwe Kerk.
  • In 1596, the painter Leonaert Bramer (1596–1674) is born in Delft. He creates genre, religious, and history paintings and becomes close to the family of Johannes Vermeer.
  • At the end of the 16th century, the city council officially establishes a few street names for the first time. These concern four streets on the site of the former Sint-Ursula monastery at Gasthuislaan. Because many Flemish textile workers live there, they name the streets after the cities of Tournai, Lille, Ypres, and Bruges.
  • In 1601, a group of twelve merchants and manufacturers of Delft decide to ready a ship for a voyage to the East Indies. The following year, however, the States General force all the existing overseas trading companies to form a single Dutch East India Company, putting an end to competition between them.
  • The 1660s, the so-called Dutch Golden Age, was a period of remarkable economic, cultural, and scientific flourishing in the Netherlands, which, like many cities in the Netherlands, was shared by Delft. Key factors included maritime trade dominance via the Dutch East India Company, the establishment of a modern financial system, and advancements in art, exemplified by painters like Rembrandt and Vermeer. Additionally, it saw notable progress in the sciences and politics, positioning the Netherlands as one of the world's major powers. The prosperity enjoyed by Holland's middle classes did not extend to everyone. Much less wealth seeped down to the lowest classes than is often assumed from the neat streets and well-ordered households that appear in so many of the era's paintings. The workhouse, the poorhouse, slum living and child labor were all evident. A laborer worked 14 hours or more a day for a few pennies; an able seaman, who ran a 50-50 chance of not coming back from an Indies voyage, made two or three guilders a week. Recent research shows that the Golden Age was far from golden for perhaps half the population.
  • In 1602, the VOC (Dutch East India Company) is founded as the world's first shareholders' company. It is an amalgamation of small, independent trading companies to which the States-General of the Dutch Republic grant far-reaching privileges. The most important of these is a monopoly on all trade east of the Cape of Good Hope. The company's main goal is to acquire a share of the profitable trade made in spices, textiles, and precious metals produced in this vast region, which includes Persia and India, the Malaysian Peninsula, the Indonesian archipelago, China, and Japan. The VOC consists of six Chambers (Kamers) in port cities: Amsterdam, Delft, Rotterdam, Enkhuizen, Middelburg, and Hoorn. The company rapidly expands becoming the largest employer in the Republic, and the growth of its power is felt immediately, even in the smaller participating cities. Delft, with a total investment of 469,400 guilders, is one of the smaller chambers. Although Delft is inland, it has access to the Atlantic Ocean through the port city of Delfshaven, a municipality of Delft, thereby allowing the import of vast quantities of precious Chinese porcelain. Some pieces are visible in Vermeer's paintings.
  • In 1615 - Vermeer's father, then a silk weaver (kaffawerker), marries Digna Baltens (d.1670) in Amsterdam. When Digna signs a statement to the effect that she is unmarried at the time, she with a cross. Later she learns to sign her name in full. The marriage is performed on 18 July. Reynier Jansz. is 24 years old.
  • In 1620, only about one-fourth of the population of Delft belongs to the Reformed Church. The city harbors many Catholics and Mennonites, as well as a range of religious minorities. Many citizens, however, prefer to remain unaffiliated with any church. Protestants and Catholics participate equally in many areas of public life in Delft; for example, in the guilds, which regulate economic life, and in the civic-guard companies. Vermeer's parents baptize, Gertruy, their first child, in Delft.
  • In the beginning of the 17th century, there are about 100 breweries in Delft.
  • Between 1602 and 1680, the Delft chamber of the VOC alone sends out eighty-two ships, in sizes ranging from about one to six hundred tons. Managers of the company maintain a yacht at the quay just west of the Schiedam Gate. The boat runs back and forth to Delfshaven, where ships returning from the East are unloaded into the small damlopers (dam runners) that carry the goods to warehouses in Delft. Since the decline in the brewery industry, Delft investors begin to seek new ventures in land, government loans, and shares of the VOC.
  • On May 29, 1611, the Guild of Saint Luke is founded, although the guild had existed long before. It is named after its patron saint, the Evangelist Luke. According to legend, the evangelist had painted a portrait of the Virgin Mary. Further, Luke's gospel is known as the most visual account in the Bible, including details and atmosphere. In Delft, as in every other artistic center, artists, and artisans come together primarily to limit the import of artworks from outside the city. The guild system is designed to improve the crafts and protect their quality. Members are required to pass a compulsory master's test, which guarantees the quality of the products and keeps them at a high level. Other protective measures are used to combat the increase in counterfeit goods and control foreign imports. For example, this is accomplished by limiting only painters belonging to the guild to sell paintings. The board of the guild comprises six members (two potters, two stained-glass artists, and two painters) under the leadership of a dean who is a member of the council of forty, a municipal advisory body. The painters are the most influential members. Membership of the guild brings along benefits as well as obligations and rules. A member is not allowed to take over another member's job except in cases of force majeure, such as illness or drunkenness. A simple sick benefit system exists, providing income and medical aid in case a member becomes seriously ill. Members are expected to attend the funerals of other members. Fees and fines for trespassing these rules are collected by a footman.
  • In 1613, the States General contracts Spierinx to produce a series of grand tapestries for the sum of 16,933 guilders. On May 17, 1616, Karel van Mander (1548–1606) rents a house belonging to the St. Anna convent for this purpose. Spierinx owns an art collection that boasts fine prints and drawings, including works from Italy and a superb collection by the painter Lucas van Leiden (1494–1533).
  • In 1614, the Kolk is excavated to create a more functional harbor.
  • In 1614, a milestone is reached in the development of Delft poverty relief, which would later be imitated in many other cities and earn a place in history books as the Delft model. Until then, it had been impossible to prevent poverty and begging. Attempts were made to employ the poor in the textile sector, but the number of poor people was far too large and the earnings were very low. Moreover, not everyone was able to work. In 1614, the city council takes a drastic step. The responsibilities of the deaconate and the Holy Spirit are transferred to and centralized in the Chamber of Charitate. The city is then divided into six well-organized districts, each with a deacon and a charity master who oversee the needy.
  • In 1614, the city council grants the surgeons' guild permission to set up an anatomy room in the baptistery of the Oude Kerk, with thirteen trained and competent surgeons. Their guild is supervised by the university-trained physicians employed by the city or the hospital, numbering no more than three or four. The surgeons gather in the Oude Kerk for more than four decades, until they move to a new space in 1656.
  • In 1615, Reynier Jansz. Vos and Digna Baltens, the future parents of Vermeer, are married shortly afterward they move to Delft, where they run an inn on the Market Square. Birth of Emanuel de Witte (died 1692) in
  • On August 1, 1616, riots break out in the city in protest of a new excise tax on corn. The civic guard is called out but has trouble organizing due to the crowded streets. After this incident, the civic guard is reorganized geographically into four districts, with bands stretching across the city, instead of by type of weapon.
  • From March 3 to March 4, 1618, Delft City Hall burns down. Everything is destroyed except the limestone tower; its bells are melted beyond repair, and are later re-cast as the Nieuwe Kerk's first bells in 1660. According to witness statements in the Orphanage Room, the fire from the night before had not been extinguished properly and flared up at night, leading to disastrous consequences. The floor of the Orphanage Room collapses into the Secretariat. Civilians rush to save what can be saved and manage to bring precious paintings and piles of papers to safety, but much is lost. Eventually, the entire town hall burns down, except for the heavy stone towers. It is rebuilt in Dutch Renaissance style, following a design by Hendrick de Keyser (1565-1621), who also designed Prince Willem's mausoleum in the Nieuwe Kerk.
  • In 1618, the Delft mintmaster and brewer Melchior Wyntgis (15??–1626 or later) compiles an inventory of his art collection in Brussels. The collection contains 170 paintings, the total value of which he estimates at more than 12,500 guilders. A large number of them are by masters from the Southern Netherlands, and the entire collection gives the impression of being an art dealer's stock in trade.
  • On August 1, 1620, the Pilgrim Fathers leave Delfshaven aboard the Speedwell. Since then, the town's Oude Kerk has been known as the Pelgrimskerk (Pilgrim Fathers Church).
  • Starting in the 1620s, earthenware producers in Delft, Haarlem, and probably Rotterdam attempt to create high-quality imitations of Chinese porcelain. However, it is only after a prolonged period of experimentation that they succeed in making thin, light, white-glazed earthenware decorated in blue in the Chinese style.
  • In 1621, the Bank of Delft is established.
  • In 1621, an English trading company known as the Merchant Adventurers is persuaded to establish its headquarters in Delft. As a result, the city gains an import monopoly on undyed English woolen cloth. Moreover, the activities involved in processing and transporting the cloth to other parts of the Netherlands and elsewhere in Europe are expected to create new jobs in Delft.
  • In 1620, the Kolk is completed.
  • In 1622, Delft has 20,150 inhabitants; by 1680, the number increases to approximately 22,000.
  • In August 1623 and April 1624, the English trading company Merchant Adventurers hosts grand celebrations in the Prinsenhof to honor Elizabeth Stuart, the daughter of King James I, and her consort, King Frederick V of Bohemia.
  • In 1625, Delft establishes a bank of exchange in the newly rebuilt Town Hall to facilitate international financial transactions. Cloth dyers from other regions set up businesses in Delft, along with several English printers.
  • In c. 1627–1630, Vermeer's father, Reynier Janz., who since 1652 calls himself "Vos," rents an inn on the Voldersgracht in Delft called The Flying Fox (De Vliegnde Vos). The reason for the change of name is unknown.
  • In 1628, Leonaert Bramer, friend of Vermeer's family and believed by some to have been Vermeer's master, returns to Delft after a visit to Italy.
  • In April 1629, a captain and merchant from Delfshaven named Piet Hein (1577–1629) is appointed lieutenant admiral of the Dutch navy. Two months later, he dies in a skirmish with privateers near Dunkirk and is buried in Delft's Oude Kerk, in a tomb financed by the Delft chamber of the VOC
  • In 1631, Reynier Vos, Vermeer's father, establishes himself as an art dealer. He joins the Guild of St. Luke (the painters' guild) on October 13. In addition to being an art dealer, he is also a weaver who produces caffa, a fabric similar to silk.
  • In 1632, the scientist Antonie van Leeuwenhoek and the artist Johannes Vermeer are born in Delft. Van Leeuwenhoek perfects the microscope and makes several groundbreaking discoveries, including the first accurate description of red blood cells. As the financial administrator of the Town Council, he later takes charge of Vermeer's estate after the artist's death and arranges for his widow to auction off his paintings. The population of Delft at this time is 21,000.
  • In 1634, English cloth merchants decide to relocate their business to Rotterdam, abandoning Delft. All subsequent attempts to rejuvenate the Delft textile industry prove futile. With the closure of the bank of exchange in the mid-1630s, Delft becomes significantly less cosmopolitan.
  • In the mid-1630s, the VOC disappoints investors, and the Delft office remains in operation only until 1676, when it is transferred to Rotterdam. A company formed with Delft capital to send ships on whaling missions to Greenland from Delfshaven fails to materialize.
  • From about 1645 to 1653 Vermeer receives his artistic training with an as yet unknown master or masters, either in Delft or possibly in another city.
  • In 1636, the first regular trekschuiten (horse-powered tow barge) connection from Delft to Leiden is established over the Vliet river, which flows into Delft from the North. Two years later, The Hague is also connected to this route with a fork in the Vliet at the current Drievliet. The connection between The Hague and Delft becomes the busiest route in the Netherlands. Between 6:30 in the morning and 7:00 in the evening, a tow boat departs from Delft to The Hague and vice versa every half hour. The trekschuiten system gains such popularity that it eventually inspires a literary genre called schuitepraatjes (boat talk). These boat-talk pamphlets discuss or poke fun at topical issues through fictional conversations between, for example, a farmer, a merchant, and a gentleman, during a trip on the tow barge.
  • In 1640, Delft is home to eleven potteries, each featuring a single kiln and employing an average of fifteen painters and servants. Vermeer's father signs a deposition as "Vermeer." Again, the reason for the change in name is unknown.
  • In 1641, Reynier Janz. Vos buys a large house and inn called "Mechelen" for 2,700 guilders on the Grote Markt (Great Market), in Delft. Three days earlier, Jan Thins (brother of Maria Thins, Vermeer's future mother-in-law) bought a house on the Oude Langendijk, Delft. In this house Vermeer will keep his studio and spend most of his adult life.
  • By 1645, only twenty-five breweries remain operational. However, the rapid expansion of the faience industry between 1650 and 1670 creates numerous new jobs, countering the notion that the decline in breweries and the textile industry deals a fatal blow to the city's economy. Families who had amassed fortunes in brewing or cloth production, and increased their wealth through wise investments in East India trade, continue to invest in public monuments and support a thriving local school of painting throughout most of the 17th century.
  • Between 1644 and 1647, due to civil unrest in China, the importation of Chinese porcelain drops from 200,000 pieces to 125,000 pieces in 1647, and to a mere 15,000 pieces in 1652. This decline stimulates production among Delft potters.
  • As the pottery industry gains prominence in Delft, potters' standing within the Guild of St. Luke evolves. By 1648, two of the six headmen are potters. Although an attempt in 1678 to form their own guild fails, the potters eventually establish their own organization within the guild in 1689.
  • On October 12, 1652, Reynier Janz. Vos, Vermeer's father,is buried in the Nieuwe Kerk, Delft.
  • In 1653, the De Koninklijke Porceleyne Fles (Royal Delft Porcelain Factory) is founded by David Anthonisz van der Pieth. Until the late 18th century, the company produces earthenware for clients in the Netherlands and across Europe, commonly known as Delftware. Delftware ranges from simple household items—plain white earthenware with little or no decoration, to incredibly ornate pieces.
  • In 1650, when Vermeer is 18 years of age, the population of Delft stands at 24,000. Slightly more than half of the citizens are native to Delft.
  • In the mid-17th century, an estimated 50,000 paintings in Delft households belong to middle-class families.
  • By the mid-1600s, the production of Delft pottery skyrockets.
  • In 1652, Carel Fabritius (1622–1654) enrolls in the Delft St. Luke's Guild and paints A View of Delft.
  • On April 5, 1653, Vermeer marries Catharina Bolnes, who is a year and a half his senior. She comes from a respected Catholic family in Gouda. Among the witnesses to the civil marriage is the successful Delft painter Leonaert Bramer (1596–1674). The night before, Bramer, and a certain Captain Melling declare that Maria Thins refused to give her consent in writing but she states that "she would suffer the (marriage) banns be published and would tolerate it." The religious ceremony occurs on April 20 in Schipluyden (or Schipluiden) according to Catholic rites and is therefore likely clandestine. The newlyweds initially reside in the Mechelen house, where Vermeer's father operates an inn on the Market Square. On December 29, Vermeer gains admission to the Guild of St Luke as a master painter. He pays a portion of his enrollment fee: 1 florin and 10 stivers. He completes the payment (a total of 6 florins) on July 24, 1656. On April 22,Vermeer and the successful painter Gerrit ter Borch from Deventer co-sign a document in Delft.
  • On October 12, 1654, a gunpowder magazine known as t Secreet van Hollandt explodes in an event referred to as the Delftse Donderslag (Delft Thunderclap), devastating much of the city. The explosion, caused by 40 tonnes (80,000 to 90,000 pounds) of the Netherlands' black powder reserve, results in over a hundred deaths and thousands of injuries. Fortuitously, many citizens are away attending a market in Schiedam or a fair in The Hague. Carel Fabritius, a colleague of Vermeer and Rembrandt's most gifted pupil, dies while painting a portrait, along with some of his limited body of work. Another Delft painter, Daniel Vosmaer, loses an eye. Remarkably, a baby girl is found alive after 24 hours, still sitting in her high chair and holding an apple. Arnold Bon, a bookseller and publisher, laments Fabritius's death in verse but finds solace in Vermeer's emerging talent.
  • Immediately following the catastrophic Thunderclap of 1654, Delft's mayors resolve to relocate the Pesthuis, a hospital for plague victims, to a location outside the city. In alignment with contemporary medical insights, patients suffering from the highly contagious disease are to be isolated even post-mortem. Funds are allocated to purchase land for a cemetery, which appears on a map as early as 1656.
  • In 1654, painter Jan Steen (c. 1626–1679) takes over one of the few remaining breweries—De Slang (The Snake), alternatively known as De Roskam (The Currycomb), on the city's main canal. However, he relinquishes it three years later due to financial setbacks. Steen's failure is partly attributable to a nationwide economic slump induced by the First Anglo-Dutch War (1652-54).
  • In 1655, the Schie Canal is completed with a towpath along its western side. Spearheaded by the Delft city council, the project aims to facilitate commerce with Delfshaven. The trekschiuten (tow-boat ferry service) operate from the Zuidkolk, adjacent to the Kethel or Schiedam gate. They offer hourly departures in both directions and connect to Overschie, near the Maas River. From there, one can travel straight to Delfshaven, turn right to Rotterdam, or left to Schiedam. With 13 to 15 daily services to Rotterdam in both directions (except Sundays), Delft becomes a critical junction in Southern Holland's tow barge network. The undertaking involves negotiations with numerous landowners and necessitates the construction of various infrastructures like bridges, rights of way, and toll exemptions.
  • On December 14, 1655, Vermeer and his wife co-sign a document declaring themselves secondary sureties and co-principals for a debt incurred by the deceased Reynier Jansz. Vos. The document is signed "Johannes Reijninjersz Vermeer," with "Vosch" crossed out.
  • In 1656, Vermeer pays the remaining part of the master's fee in the Guild of Saint Luke. Vermeer signs one of his first known paintings, The Procuress.
  • In the 17th century, an estimated 120,000 passengers annually make the journey between Delft and Rotterdam via tow barge.
  • In 1657, Maria Thins, Vermeer's mother-in-law, in the first draft of her testament, leaves to Vermeer's daughters jewels and the sum of three hundred guilders to Vermeer and Catharina.
  • On 30 November, 1657, Vermeer and his wife acknowledge a debt of 200 guilders to Pieter Claesz van Ruijven (1624- 1674), who lent them the money on the same day. This is the first record of a relationship between the artist and his most important patron, who will eventually acquire as many as twentyone paintings by Vermeer.
  • After being proclaimed king by the English Parliament, the exiled Charles II declines invitations from France and Spain to set sail for England from their territories. Instead, he accepts an offer from the Dutch States General while residing in Breda. On May 26, 1660, Charles II arrives in Delft by yacht to a triumphant reception. He departs from The Hague on May 23, 1660, reaching London six days later.
  • By the late 1600s, Delft emerges as the primary producer of pottery in the Netherlands. This rise is partly attributed to the decline of the local brewing industry, enabling artisans to occupy larger facilities previously owned by breweries.
  • In the late 1660s, the city commissions Leonaert Bramer to decorate the Great Hall of the Prinsenhof. The canvas murals he creates depict scenes suitable for both governance and entertainment, including musicians, waiters, and banqueters.
  • By the 1650s, the trekschiuten system of horse-towed boats becomes remarkably efficient. One could travel from Delft to The Hague in as little as one hour and forty-five minutes, with departures every hour, or reach Amsterdam in approximately twelve hours. These tow boats operate with high frequency, experience minimal delays, and can sail in nearly all weather conditions. While primarily serving as passenger transports, they are also occasionally used for carrying cargo—such as gin from Schiedam distillers to Delft.
  • On December 27, 1660,Vermeer and his wife bury a child in the Oude Kerk. The same document states that the couple is living in the house of Maria Thins on the Oude Langendijk, in Delft.
  • In 1661, the painter Vermeer creates View of Delft.
  • On October 18, 1662, Vermeer ascends to the position of vice-dean of his guild. To boost its financial resources, the guild raises the apprenticeship enrollment fee from 10 stuivers to 2 florins and 10 stuivers.
  • On August 11, 1663, Vermeer receives a visit in Delft from the French art enthusiast and alchemist Balthasar de Monconys. Monconys notes in his diary that he finds the asking prices for paintings in Holland excessively high. Later that year, on October 18, Vermeer is elected dean of the painter's guild for a one-year term.
  • After 1664, Delft no longer records any cases of the plague. Probable date of birth of Johannes, one of the two known sons of Vermeer.
  • In 1665, the population of Delft reaches 25,000. Pieter van Ruijven and his wife Maria Knuijt, Vermeer's patrons leave a considerable sum five hundred guilders to Vermeer in their last will and testament. This kind of a bequest is very unusual and presumably testifies a close relationship between Vermeer and Van Ruijven. Vermeer's wife is excluded in he predeceases her. An average Dutch house might cost one thousand guilders.
  • In 1667, Vermeer's name is mentioned in Dirck van Bleyswijck's Description of the City of Delft as the successor of the deceased painter Carel Fabritius. Maria Thins empowers Vermeer to collect various debts owed to her and to reinvest the money according to his will and discretion.
  • In 1669 - Vermeer paints, signs, and dates The Geographer. Vermeer's mother leases Mechelen to a shoemaker for three years. Pieter Teding van Berckhout, a young scion of a landed gentry family of The Hague, visits Vermeer twice and writes his impressions in a diary. Vermeer and his wife bury another child in the Oude Kerk.
  • By 1670, one-fourth of Delft's populace is engaged in pottery production. Of the over 100 breweries that once existed in the early 1600s, only 15 remain. Meanwhile, the city houses 28 pottery factories, many of which are equipped with a second kiln.
  • On February 13, 1670, Vermeer's mother passes away at her Vlamingstraat residence. On July 13, Vermeer inherits the Mechelen inn located on the Market Square. Later, on October 18, he is elected as the dean of the guild for a one-year term, along with the outgoing headman Louijs Elsevier. Vermeer's mother is buried in the Nieuwe Kerk, in Delft, February 13. Gertruy Reynier Vermeer, Vermeer's sister, is buried in the Nieuwe Kerk, in Delft. In 1671, Vermeer inherits 148 guilders from his sister Geertruyt.
  • In 1672, Vermeer leases his deceased father's inn, Mechelen, to an apothecary for six years. Once he is elected as an official of the Guild of Saint Luke.
  • In 1672, French King Louis XIV invades the Netherlands, marking the Het Rampjaar (the disaster year). On January 1 of the same year, Dirck van Bleyswyck publishes Beschryvinge der Stadt Delft (Description of the City of Delft). Forced by illness to abandon his travel plans, van Bleyswyck opts to delve into the history of his hometown from his sickbed. Despite his love for Delft, he observes a generational shift, as the younger generation seems increasingly interested in foreign cultures at the expense of local heritage. This change in sentiment, van Bleyswyck believes, can be attributed to the republic's prosperity and global expansion by the latter part of the 17th century.
  • On January14, 1672, Vermeer leases the Mechelen to an apothecary for a period of six years. Later, on 23 May, Vermeer is summoned to The Hague with several other painters to appraise a collection of twelve Italian paintings. This appraisal was needed due to a dispute between the art dealer, Gerrit van Uylenburgh, and their potential buyer, Friedrich Wilhelm, the Grand Elector of Brandenburg.
  • On April 9, 1672, Delft dispatches troops to defend against the French invasion. By June 29, jobless protesters from Schiedam have occupied the Delft City Hall. On September 10, half of the Veertigraad (Council of Forty), composed of Delft's wealthiest citizens, are replaced by pro-Orangist officials.
  • On May 3, 1672, Johannes Vermeer and fellow Delft painter Hans Jordaens travel to The Hague. Along with other artists like Karel Dujardin, they assess thirteen "Italian" paintings being sold by Gerrit Uylenburgh to the Elector of Brandenburg and deem them of poor quality.
  • On June 27, 1673, another child of Vermeer and his wife was laid to rest in the Old Church in Delft in a grave purchased by Vermeer's mother-in-law, Maria Thins. Later, on 21 July, Vermeer visited Amsterdam and sold two bonds totaling 800 guilders to Hendrick de Schepper. One of these bonds, valued at 500 guilders, had initially been issued in the name of Magdalena Pieters van Ruijven, who was the daughter of Vermeer's patron, Pieter Claesz. van Ruijven.
  • In 1674, Vermeer's name appears on the register of the Delft militia. In the words of a Delft edict of 1655, Schutterij (the Dutch word for guardsman) were "the most suitable, most peacefully and best qualified burgers or children of burgers." On 4 May, Vermeer travels to Gouda to settle some affairs of his recently deceased father-in-law, Reynier Bolnes. On 10 June, Maria Vermeer, the eldest daughter of the artist, marries Johannes Gillisz. Cramer, a merchant.
  • In 1675, in the last document in which Vermeer's name appears he was alive, the artist borrowed one thousand guilders from Jacob Rombouts in Amsterdam, using as collateral a restricted obligation under the custody of the Orphan Chamber of Gouda for 2,900 guilders, to the usufruct of which Maria Thins was entitled.
  • On December 1, 1675, Vermeer was buried in an "Eijgen Graff" (Own Grave) in the Oude Kerk. The grave was owned by his mother-in-law Maria Thins. A number of Johannes and Catharina’s children had previously been buried in the same plot prior to Vermeer’s death. A recently discovered register regarding the people buried in the Delft's Oude Kerk states that Vermeer's coffin was carried by fourteen pallbearers and that the church bell tolled once for him. This indicates Vermeer’s funeral would have required a significant financial expenditure. Bas van der Wulp, a member of the city archives who made the discovery, explains that such a ceremony was clearly luxurious, adding that although he read about funerals in Delft with twenty pallbearers, these were reserved for members of the town's elite. Vermeer’s wealthy mother-in-law, Maria Thins, received a little more at her funeral, “two intervals of bells.” Maria Thins' troublesome son, Willem, later also received a similar funeral. Van der Wulp believes that Thins probably paid for her son -in-law's funeral thinking of eventually advancing the costs to her daughter, as they were probably not yet aware of the financial misery in which Vermeer was in at that time.
  • On February 29, 1676, an inventory of movable objects from Vermeer's estate is compiled. Anthonie Leeuwenhoek, inventor of the microscope and famous scientist from Delft, is appointed executor of Vermeer's estate.
  • On February 2 and 5, 1677, Leeuwenhoek appears before the Lords Aldermen of Delft to settle Vermeer's debt with Jannetje Stevens, who then transfers back to Vermeer' estate twenty-six paintings in the possession of Jan Coelenbier. A public sale of the paintings is planned. Maria Thins notifies that The Art of Painting ("de Schilderconst") was transferred to her by her daughter and that the painting should not be included in the sale of Vermeer's estate in the Guild Hall of Saint Luke. Leeuwenhoek denies the legality of the transfer. The sale of the paintings takes place in the Guild Hall, March 15. No records of the sale survive.
  • . In the late 1660s, the city of Delft pays Leonaert Bramer for decorating the Great Hall of the Prinsenhof with canvas murals, which appear to have depicted scenes appropriate both to government (what may be The Rape of the Sabine Women on the long wall; figures of Justice and Charity on the sides of tl1e fireplaces) and to entertainment (musicians, waiters, and banqueters).
  • In 1680, Delft's population is recorded as 25,000. On December 27, Maria Thins is buried and her daughter Catharina Bolnes inherits her possessions.
  • On January 2, 1688, Catharina Bolnes, Vermeer's wife, is buried in Delft's Oude Kerk. Her death certificate indicates that she had moved to a Verversdijk residence, known by the sign of the Blue Hand.
  • In 1687, Catharina dies in Delft during a visit to her daughter Maria Vermeer and Johannes Cramer at their house the "Blue Hand" on Verwersdijk. She is given her Last Sacraments on December 30 and is buried three days later. Her relatives could afford to pay twelve pallbearers. She leaves five children under twenty-five years of age who were still unmarried.
  • Around 1700, Delft's population stands at approximately 22,000. Many foreigners leave the city, but Delftware factories peak in number, reaching over thirty establishments. Employee counts per factory are estimated to range from fifteen to sixty.
  • In 1732, the population of Delft decreases to 15,000.
  • By 1749, the population further dwindles to 13,900.
  • Between 1834 and 1836, the Rotterdam and Schiedam Gates, landmarks featured in Vermeer's View of Delft, are taken down.

  • * Among the sources for this timeline are the invaluable Oefgoed Delft Stadsarchief (City Archives Delft)—particularly the article entitled 365 DAYS DELFT—and the Lens on Leeuwenhoek website.


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