Skip to content
Welcome / Blog Archive / English / 2021-09-doc3 Rembrandt’s Money (forthcoming) – Titus and the Orphans Chamber

2021-09-doc3 Rembrandt’s Money (forthcoming) – Titus and the Orphans Chamber

Yet, another theme in my forthcoming book ‘Rembrandt’s Money. The legal and financial life of an artist-entrepreneur in 17th century Holland’ (see relates to Saskia Uylenburgh, Rembrandt’s wife. Last month I provided a sketch of the question which law applied to the marriage of Rembrandt and Saskia Uylenburgh? The laws of Friesland or those of Holland? Rembrandt noted in a caption on a drawing that they married on 8 June 1633. However, didn’t he mean 1634?, see

Rembrandt: being allowed to remarry?
Saskia’s live has been with Rembrandt in Amsterdam for over eight years. She has met rather sad events with the death of three children shortly after birth. The fourth child, Titus, is eight months old when she dies, in 1642. Her will contains a crucial passage: if Rembrandt remarries, her estate will go to Saskia’s older sister Hiskia. In my book, the view in literature, resulting in the submission that Rembrandt was unable to marry or was not allowed to remarry without the consent of Saskia’s family, is rejected.

The legal terminology ‘bewijs … doen’
The other issue relates to little Titus. Generally, in the presence of a minor the protection of its property interests in the inheritance, the Amsterdam Orphan Chamber had a specific role. It had to permit every transaction, which an orphan or its guardian wanted to engage in with third parties, which had an impact on the orphan’s financial position. With a view on the division of property, approval was also required if the remaining parent wished to remarry. The requirement applied also in cases in which in the will (of Saskia) itself any position for the Orphans Chamber was excluded. Approval to marry could be granted when a statement was given containing sufficient proof that the succession rights of children were guaranteed. If this ‘guarantee’ was not presented, a fine of 12 guilders was imposed and the sanction, in case of remarrying of the remaining parent, was the loss of one-eighth of the property of the person whose second marriage nevertheless was completed (‘het verlies van een achtste deel van de goederen van degene wiens 2de huwelijk toch voltrokken was’). As indicated in her will, Saskia also states that Rembrandt does not have to provide a list of inventory (‘te leveren eenige staet ofte inventaris van de voors. goederen’). Under Amsterdam law at that time, it was possible to be dispensed from the duty to make an inventory and presumably this has taken place in the light of the fact what the commissioners of the Orphans Chamber (‘Weesmeesters’) decided on 17 December 1642, that Rembrandt may continue to retain the entire estate without providing the ‘guarantee’ as mentioned above (‘bewijs te doen’).

The legal terminology ‘bewijs … doen’, in the context used, is unfamiliair in today’s Dutch legal system. In my study I develop several views with regard to its specific legal meaning at that time, in discussion for instance with recent (Dutch) legal-historical research (Cornelis Marinus In ‘t Veld, Rembrandts boedelafstand: een institutionele en politieke benadering, in: 21 Pro Memorie. Bijdragen tot de rechtsgeschiedenis der Nederlanden 2019, 72ff.) and comparing with US research on the theme how in these days in ‘New Amsterdam’ the Orphans Chamber functioned (Adriana van Zwieten, The Orphan Chamber of New Amsterdam, in: The William and Mary Quarterly, Vol. 53, No. 2 (Apr. 1996), 319ff.

Runway to publication
Up to its publication I will regularly blog some background of the book’s themes and details of its content. I hope to be able to connect such information with actual developments in literature or shared via (virtual) meetings. Just let me explain to you that as main audience for readership I see legal and financial professionals, especially with an appetite for the developments in civil, commercial and insolvency law in 17th century Holland. When details of the publication date will be known, I will inform you via this blog. And, by the way, if you are interested to get notified every time a blog appears, please follow Rembrandt’s Money on social media.
Information as to today:
Bob Wessels, ‘Rembrandt’s Money’. The legal and financial life of an artist-entrepreneur in 17th century Holland. Deventer: Wolters Kluwer. ISBN 9789013164893 (forthcoming Autumn 2021)