Erfgoed Leiden en omstreken

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Arts and crafts

Records about Leidse art crafts in the period 1474-1575 are digitally in see through our site and through the website of the Netherlands Institute for art history (RKD). You can search by keyword and person's name in the search engine. In a period of three years all archive documents will be fully transcribed (English summaries included).


Leiden crafts

Leiden's cultural life flourished as never before in the period of 1475-1575:

  • with the painters Cornelis Engebrechtsz and Lucas van Leyden;
  • the book printer and publisher Jan Zevertsz;
  • the tapestry weaver Willem Andriesz de Raet, and
  • the music of the Pieterskerk choir that we know from the Leiden Choir Books.

But there were many others active in Leiden as well: goldsmiths, sculptors, cabinet-makers, glaziers, and embroiderers. In addition there were some forgotten crafts, such as that of the so-called Jesus-bakers, who cast small religious sculptures using the soft clay now called pipe-clay from its later use in tobacco pipes.


Treasure Chamber

All these craftsmen left traces in Leiden's archives. Their names can be discovered in legal cases, in payments from the city treasury and from churches and monasteries, in tax lists, payment receipts or disputes, and in marriage contracts. These manuscript documents provide a wealth of information. Leiden's archives are especially well preserved for this period, more  than those of other cities. They thus offer a more complete view into the broad cultural life of a Dutch city in that time.

In the 1970s, Dr. Jeremy Bangs carried out systematic archival research concerning the Leiden craftsmen between 1475-1575. His notes from that time contain references to around 6,000 archive documents. From this “Treasury” you can search directly in the archival documents already posted on the RKD-website (www.rkd.nl/excerpts). Around 30 to 40 archival documents will be added each week.

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