These two portraits of husband and wife Isaac Sweers and Constantia Bloemaert are a prime example of the rich burgher class in the Dutch Republic. Isaac is wearing a sash decorated with gold and silver threads. His left hand is resting on his sword and, in his right, he is holding a pistol. Constantia’s silk dress is decorated with expensive lace. Around her neck and wrist are pearls and she’s wearing pearl earrings. Reflected in the iron gorget worn by Isaac there is a nice touch – a self-portrait of the painter Luttichuijs. Isaac led a turbulent life before he married Constantia. He was orphaned at a young age, and roamed throughout Europe and Brazil. He finally made a career for himself at the Admiralty of Amsterdam, rising to the position of vice-admiral. Little has been written about the women of the past, so it sometimes appears as if they lived their lives in the shadows of their husbands, doing nothing but looking after the household. But the wives of admirals generally arranged the provisioning of the vessels, were involved in the business and were often members of the governing boards of charitable institutions. Constantia was not merely Isaac’s wife. She came from a very prominent Antwerp family that had moved to Amsterdam. Her father was a rich merchant and a director of the Dutch West India Company, making her one of Amsterdam's elite. In fact, the capital, status and network Constantia brought to the marriage, contributed to the respect Isaac enjoyed.
Het Scheepvaartmuseum (The National Maritime Museum) shows the strong connection between the maritime world and society as a whole, and more specifically the impact of this on the lives of many individuals. The collection of The National Maritime Museum is one of the largest and most notable maritime collections in the world with approximately 400,000 objects, including paintings, models of ships, navigation instruments, and maps of the world. Discover 500 years of Dutch Maritime history as well as its strong links to today’s society and the society of the future.