A past to swoon over…

Jan Adam Kruseman, Neêrlandse Dicht’ren rei, vereenigd bij den ridder Hooft, op het slot te Muiden (Dutch poets gathered with Hooft at Muiderslot castle),
approx.1852, oil on canvas, 173 x 260 cm,
collection of Rijksmuseum Muiderslot, Muiden, B1943-800.
On long-term loan from Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam

This might look like a 17th-century painting at first sight, but you’ll soon notice your mistake if you look carefully. It is actually a 19th century work by the historic painter Jan Adam Kruseman (1804-1862), showing one of Muiderslot castle’s most enduring myths: that of the Muiderkring. If you read the letters of P.C. Hooft, you might think that he was in touch with everyone who mattered in the 17th century. Hooft was an avid letter writer. This led to the idea in the 19th century that Hooft actually received all of these famous people at the castle. This led to the legend of the Muiderkring or Muider Circle. It was necessary at the time. After the Napoleonic wars, the Netherlands had changed from a republic into a kingdom, but there was a lot of strife. People looked to the past for stories that would bring them together. The Muiderkring was a perfect example: a company of men, women, Catholics, Protestants, who freely exchanged ideas within the castle walls, a perfect example of peaceful coexistence. The story was embellished, because Hooft knew all these people and received them at home but never all at the same time. The ideal of a Muiderkring that gathered at the castle every summer, making music, reciting poetry, and nibbling on the prunes. Well, that’s 19th century romanticism for you…

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The ‘Muiderkring’