Donna R. Barnes and Peter G. Rose – Childhood Pleasures: Dutch Children in the Seventeenth Century

Seventeenth-century Netherlands, the Golden Age, inspired many. From conquering the world seas, economic growth to bustling cities. Painters and writers left an enormous legacy of this period of the Dutch republicChildhood Pleasures: Dutch Children in the Seventeenth Century explores the toys, plays, festivals and food of children in that era. In the first part an historical introduction is given. In the second part tens of paintings are shown and explained. And as a real dessert, the third part has a series of recipes of traditional children’s food of the era, ones your own children can help preparing: pancakes, sweats, tarts, and so on.

he images in the book are organized around eight themes: Infancy; St. Nicholas; Celebrations and Music; Toys and Games; Animals as Pets and Companions; Inventing Fun, Games, and Mischief; Shopping for Food Treats; and Winter Activities: Outdoors. Typical Dutch names for food and toys are translated and explained, often with surprising roots. I was glad to find my city of birth’s famous Deventer Koek (a kind of ginger bread) included. But you will disover the loopwagen (the walker), hoepel (hoola hoop), speculaas (rooted to Latin specula, mirror), knikker bakker (marbles play case), Sinterklaas (Saint Nicholas festival at December 5th), Sint Maarten (Saint Martin at November 11th) and Lent plays as well. A pleasure to read and watch. It saves you trips to many European museums where the paintings are exhibited now. Or you get inspired to plan (another) trip to Europe and enjoy the Golden Age’s treasures.

About the authors

Donna R. Barnes is professor of education at Hofstra University. She has lectured on Dutch art and daily life at the Amsterdam Museum, the Rembrandt Museum, and the Center for the Study of the Golden Age at the University of Amsterdam. She has curated seven exhibits of seventeenth-century art in the US and the Netherlands. Food historian Peter G. Rose is the author of The Sensible Cook: Dutch Foodways in the Old and New World and coauthor with Donna R. Barnes of Matters of Taste: Food and Drink in Seventeenth-Century Dutch Art and Life.

I reveived an advance review copy through Netgalley to provide you my review.