The Attic Church

Read more about the church in the attic

Catholic Jan Hartman proved to be such a successful businessmen – he worked in the linen trade and collected excise duties on wine – that he was able to buy this house in Oudezijds Voorburgwal and two adjacent properties in the adjoining alley. He immediately began major extension work on the buildings. His plan was to merge the attics of the three properties to create a Catholic church. It was from this church that the museum took its name: Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder, which means Our Lord in the Attic.

He rented out the two alley dwellings and the church – which had originally been named ‘t Hart after the architect – to Petrus Parmentier. As an additional bonus, he even provided the priest with the wine needed for services.

If he saw it now, Jan Hartman would not recognise the Attic Church he had built. Unlike the rest of the house, which was as far as possible restored to its original 17th-century condition during the large-scale renovations, the church itself has been restored to its appearance in the 19th century – the year 1862 to be exact.

The Attic Church was restored in the colour of this time: caput mortuum ('dead head'). Although the name might not suggest it, this is a beautiful shade of old pink, tending towards brown, liver-coloured and purple. The colour was reconstructed based on scientific research and contains linseed oil with titanium white and iron oxide. The white lead originally used is no longer permitted.

Once again there is rush matting on the floor – originally woven in Genemuiden, this has now been harvested and recreated by hand in the UK. Electric replicas of the 19th-century gaslights have also been recreated based on old photographs. Otherwise, the restoration work was as conservative as possible since the house is the collection's most important object and it needed to be preserved in its original condition.