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Document Details :
Title: In goede orde veranderlijk geordineerd
Subtitle: Schriftelijke bronnen over (marmer)stenen vloeren in het Nederlandse interieur van de 17de en 18de eeuw
Author(s): GROENEVELD, Inger
Journal: Tijdschrift voor Interieurgeschiedenis en Design
Volume: 37 Date: 2010-2011
This paper aims to offer guidance on the interpretation of historical sources on ‘stone floors in Dutch interiors’. It is not easy, after all, to interpret the available material. This is due, first of all, to the historical terminology and its local variations. Secondly, it is important to know in which ways information on stone floors and the required materials has been recorded in the sources. Patterned floors are a particular point for attention, notably the ‘Italian floor’, a term used to describe a black-and-white marble floor. Also important are sources on the constructions beneath the floors. Stone and ceramic tiles were generally laid on wooden floors that could just as well have served as the main floor. A single carpenter’s specification or home construction estimate, in which no mention is made of tiling, is usually unsuitable to help determine whether or to what extent an interior was furnished with stone floors. Finally, the source material offers interesting clues for dating historical floors: besides the development of floor tile formats, this concerns the type of plinth and mortar as well as the floor bed.
The crucial question is whether or not (marble or) stone floors were being commonly used during the 17th and 18th centuries. Quantitative data on natural stone floors proved very difficult to extract for import and export as well as for the occurrence of stone floors in interiors. It is likewise difficult to obtain a balanced qualitative view of the application of stone floors in domestic interiors in Holland or throughout the Netherlands. For example, the wealth of home construction estimates in the notorial archives of Amsterdam is actually quite exceptional and contrasts sharply with the lack of available documents elsewhere, e.g. in Groningen or even in Rotterdam, a city so important for the trade in marble.
The research that has been carried out provides a new view of the 17th-century interior in Amsterdam. Quite apart from the very real possibility that marble and other types of stone floors were not as usual in domestic interiors elsewhere as they were in Amsterdam, there is every reason to believe that some earlier assumptions about stone floors need be revised. This also puts a different complexion upon some important contemporary sources, especially upon remarks by Philips Vingboons – as well as his silence – on marble and stone floors. Significant is the disappearance of nearly all marble floors mentioned or described by Vingboons in the interiors of the relevant houses in Amsterdam, which confirms that, contrary to what has always been assumed, a marble floor laid at great cost by one generation may yet have been discarded by the next.