De Graeff

De Graeff
Graeff / De Graeff van Polsbroek
noble and patrician family
Country Netherlands
Parent house Von Graben
Titles knight, jonkheer
Founded 15th century
Founder Pieter Graeff (born 1484)
Ethnicity Dutch

De Graeff (Dutch pronunciation: [dəˈɣraːf]; also: Graeff and De Graeff van Polsbroek) is an old Dutch patrician family, which according to – unverified – family tradition descends from the Austrian Lords Von Graben. Allegedly one Wolfgang von Graben came 1483 to Holland.[1] The family was founded by Pieter Graeff (born around 1484).[2] Since 1885 the family belonging to the Dutch nobility with the honorific of jonkheer[3]

The family have played an important role during the Dutch Golden Age. They were at the centre of Amsterdam public life and oligarchy from 1578 until 1672.[4]

The De Graeff family during the Dutch Golden Age

During the Dutch Golden Age, the De Graeff family was very critical of the influence of the House of Orange. the De Graeffs belonged to the republican political movement, also referred to as the ‘state oriented’, as opposed to the Royalists. Together with the Republican political leaders, the Bicker family and Grand Pensionary Johan de Witt, the republican-minded brothers Cornelis and Andries de Graeff strived for the abolition of stadtholdership. They desired the full sovereignty of the individual regions in a form in which the Republic of the United Seven Netherlands was not ruled by a single person. Instead of a sovereign (or stadtholder) the political and military power was lodged with the States General and with the regents of the cities in Holland.[4]

During the two decades from the 1650 to the 1670s the De Graeff family had a leading role in the Amsterdam administration, the city was at the peak of its political power. This period was also referred to by Republicans as the ‘Ware Vrijheid’ (True Freedom). It was the First Stadtholderless Period which lasted from 1650 to 1672 during these twenty years, the regents from Holland and in particular those of Amsterdam, controlled the republic. The city was flush with self-confidence and liked to compare itself to the famous Republic of Rome. Even without a stadtholder, things seemed to be going well for the Republic and its regents both politically and economically.[4]

In early 1671, Andries de Graeff was once again put forward as chief-mayor (regent) and managed to gain control with his Republican faction. During the winter of that year it seemed as if – at least in Amsterdam – the Republicans were winning. It was an exceptionally opportune moment to commission a monumental ceiling painting on Amsterdam’s independent position for the ‘Sael’ of his mayor’s residence. De Graeff had a clear message in mind for the ceiling painting: the ‘Ware Vrijheid’ of the Republic was only protected by the Republican regents of Amsterdam. The paintings by Gerard de Lairesse glorify the de Graeff family’s role as the protector of the Republican state, defender of ‘Freedom’. The work of art can be viewed as a visual statement opposing the return of House of Orange as Stadtholders of the republic.[4]

In Rampjaar 1672, when the Organists took power again, the De Graeffs lost their position as one of the key States party families.[5] In 1677, Andries de Graeff's only son, Cornelis, became a knight of the Holy Roman Empire. They traced their descent from Wolfgang von Graben, member of the Austrian noble House of Graben von Stein,[1] which was an apparent (or illegitimate) branch of the House of Meinhardin.[6][7] Diplom loaned to Mr. Andries de Graeff, July, 19th 1677:

"Fide digis itegur genealogistarum Amsteldamensium edocti testimoniis te Andream de Graeff non paternum solum ex pervetusta in Comitatu nostro Tyrolensi von Graben dicta familia originem ducere, qua olim per quendam ex ascendentibus tuis ejus nominis in Belgium traducta et in Petrum de Graeff, abavum, Johannem, proavum, Theodorum, avum, ac tandem Jacobum, patrem tuum, viros in civitate, Amstelodamensi continua serie consulatum scabinatus senatorii ordinis dignitabitus conspicuos et in publicum bene semper meritos propagata nobiliter et cum splendore inter suos se semper gessaerit interque alios honores praerogativasque nobilibus eo locorum proprias liberum venandi jus in Hollandia, Frisiaque occidentale ac Ultrajectina provinciis habuerit semper et exercuerit."[8]

The family's role as patrons of the arts

A big accomplishment of the De Graeff were in the sponsorship of art and architecture. The De Graeffs were responsible for the majority of Amsterdam art during their reign in the Dutch Golden Age.[5] Andries de Graeff, the first patron of the arts in the family, aided Rembrandt and, together with his brother Cornelis de Graeff, commissioned Govert Flinck, Artus Quellinus and Jacob Jordaens for the construction of the city hall on the Dam in 1655. Andries de Graeffs notable artistic associates were Rembrandt, Gerard ter Borch, Flinck, and Jan Lievens. Andries brother Cornelis continued in the family tradition of patronizing artists. He would chiefly commission works from Jacob van Ruisdael, Nicolaes Eliaszoon Pickenoy, Quellinus, Flinck and Caspar Netscher. They were well known to have been the patrons of the poets Joost van den Vondel, Jan Vos, Caspar Barlaeus und Gerard Brandt.[1]

In 1660 Andries and his brother Cornelis de Graeff organized the Dutch Gift.[5] That Gift was a collection of 28 mostly Italian Renaissance paintings and 12 classical sculptures, which was presented to King Charles II of England by the States-General of the Netherlands in 1660.[9] The collection was given to Charles II to mark his return to power in the English Restoration. The De Graeffs thought that can intended to strengthen diplomatic relations between England and the Republic, but only a few years after the gift the two nations would be at war again in the Second Anglo-Dutch War of 1665–67.

Cornelis' son Pieter de Graeff for example was also a man who surrounded himself with art and beauty. He was an art collector and patron to the artists Ter Borch, Lievens, Karel Dujardin, Romeyn de Hooghe, Netscher and the poet Van den Vondel. Prof. C.W. Fock of the University of Leiden describes in her work - Het stempel van de bewoner [10] - Pieter de Graeffs art-collection and lifestyle.

Family members (Amsterdam line)

Family lines

See also

External links



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