Look closely at the two paintings of the Amsterdam Stock Exchange. Then discuss these questions as a class:
- What do you think the men are doing in these paintings?
- What is the purpose of the Exchange where they are gathered?
- What was the Commercial Revolution and how is connected to joint‐stock companies?
- What does the architecture of the buildings and the mens’ clothing tell you about the level of prosperity of Amsterdam in the 1600s?
- Where did the wealth of Amsterdam derive from at that time?
FOR THE TEACHER:
(1) The expansion of Amsterdam’s trade in the mid‐17th century allowed the city to develop its extant banking system and commodity exchange services to the highest level of volume and sophistication in Europe. In its Exchange, merchants and brokers from all over the world traded goods, currency, rumors – and an unprecedented volume of stocks. Contemporary reports sketch the bustle in the new Exchange building designed by Hendrick de Keyser (1565–1621), the most respected architect and sculptor of his generation. Artists such as Emmanuel de Witte painted the busy throngs of domestic and foreign traders.
(2) The Old Exchange of Amsterdam by Job Adriaenszoon Berckheyde, 1670 The painting excellently documents the expansion of the Exchange in 1668, based on a design by the Amsterdam architect Daniël Stalpaert. The most important change was the merging of the two southern gate buildings into one building with a classic facade on the Rokin. A statue of Mercury, the god of trade, by Bartholomeus Eggers was erected between the two hallways. The sculpture can be seen to the left between the two open arches; Mercury’s caduceus staff stands out against the sun‐lit fronts on the Rokin.