CAMPEN, Jacob van


CAMPEN, Jacob van
(1595-1657)
   Jacob van Campen is credited with introducing Baroque classicism to the Netherlands in a style that reached its high point during the 1630s-1660s, primarily in the prosperous cities of Haarlem and Amsterdam. Hendrick de Keyser had laid the foundation for this Dutch "Golden Age" with his Renaissance-style buildings constructed in Amsterdam, and van Campen, together with the architects Pieter Post and Philip Vingboons, then sought to bring Dutch architecture further into the international arena with an even more overtly classical style. Van Campen was born into a wealthy Haarlem family, and he initially trained as a painter in the shop of Frans de Grebber. What set van Campen apart from other architects of the day, however, was his extended stay in Italy, which lasted from 1616 to 1624 and resulted in his thorough examination of the ancient classical and Renaissance architectural ideals of Vitruvius, Andrea Palladio, and Vincenzo Scamozzi. Thus, van Campen's introduction of classicism into the Netherlands allowed Dutch architecture to become part of the more theoretical and international architectural discourse of the Baroque age and to further legitimize rule through the idea of historical precedent.
   One of van Campen's first buildings, constructed with Pieter Post, is the Mauritshuis in The Hague, completed in 1633. This two-story brick building follows classical proportions in its division of the façade into five parts to include a wide three-part central bay covered in stone and topped by a triangular pediment, flanked by two pairs of side bays divided by stone Ionic columns that run through both stories to separate the clearly delineated fenestration found at both levels. Classical molding, a classical entablature, and swags around the windows and central door complete the Palladian-inspired building. In 1638, van Campen constructed the first theater in the Netherlands, the Stadsschouwburg in Amsterdam, based on the classical interest in drama, and in 1645 his brick Nieuwe Kerk in Haarlem was constructed in the style of the English Baroque architect Christopher Wren.
   Jacob van Campen's best-known building is the Town Hall in Amsterdam (1648-1655). This wide, classically proportioned five-story sandstone building is again divided into five parts, with a protruding central portal unit of seven bays topped by a triangular pediment that is flanked on either side by a five-bay unit, which is then flanked by a slightly protruding three-bay wing at either end. Each bay is separated by equally spaced Corinthian columns, while swags further decorate the exterior. The center of the roof supports a tall drum and dome topped by a cogship, the symbol of Amsterdam's wealth. These imposing structures served to link Dutch architecture with the classical past and thus allowed Dutch architects to work on a more theoretical and historical level and to elevate Dutch architecture into the realm of international discourse.

Historical Dictionaries of Literature and the Arts. . 2008.

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