The Voetboogdoelen, also known as Sint-Jorisdoelen after the patron saint Joris, was a Target Shooting Club in Amsterdam. The local archery (crossbow) archers gathered in this building. The Voetboogdoelen was located on Singel, near the Koningsplein, on the spot where the modern main building of the university library now stands. The current Voetboogstraat still reminds of the Shooting Club.
The modern main building of the University Library of Amsterdam is now located on the site of Voetboogdoelen.
17th-century drawing of the Singel with (from left to right) the Handboogdoelen, the Bushuis and the Voetboogdoelen.
The Voetboogdoelen was one of three Shooting Clubs in Amsterdam. The other two were the Handboogdoelen at Singel 421 and the Kloveniersdoelen in the Nieuwe Doelenstraat. The Amsterdam militia lost its practical defense function in the middle of the 17th century. Membership of the militia became primarily a position of honor with a social function, reserved for the richest and most powerful citizens of Amsterdam, who gathered in the targets to eat, drink and smoke in a pleasant way. Incidentally, almost every Dutch city in the Golden Age had St. George's Shooting Clubs.
The Voetboogdoelen was leased from 1674 to the West India Company (WIC) as the headquarters of the newly formed, second WIC. After this, the building was called West-Indisch Binnenhuis or West-Indisch Huis for short. From 1683 to 1795 the rooms were used by the Suriname Society. In French times, the Voetboogdoelen were used as barracks until the building was demolished in 1816 to make way for the Roman Catholic Church of Saint Catherine.
Saint Catherine's Church was also demolished in 1939 and the site remained empty until the mid-1960s, when a new main building for the university library was built, designed by architect J. Leupen. This modern building is often cited as one of the ugliest in Amsterdam and an example of "coffee machine architecture".
The Voetboogdoelen in painting and poetry
In the "Oude Sael" (old hall) of the Voetboogdoelen were two civic guard pieces commissioned to celebrate the Peace of Münster in 1648, the end of the Eighty Years' War. The best known of these two paintings is Bartholomeus van der Helst's Militia Meal. This painting, by far his most famous work, depicts a celebration on 18 June 1648 in the Voetboogdoelen. The canvas is now in the Rijksmuseum. Part of the canvas has probably been removed; on copies (such as a print by Jacob Cats from 1779) the back wall and the window are much higher, and even part of the ceiling is visible. Through the window you can still see some of the buildings on the other side of the canal: a building owned by Philip Vingboons, now known as Odeon.
The famous painting of the Schuttersmaaltijd hangs in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. Painted by van der Helst a talented artist who used state of the art optical techniques to paint larger than life full sized group portraits of Amsterdam's well to do. The photographic accuracy of the individual members of the Sint Joris Doelen shooting club is exceptional.
The second militia piece in the old hall of the targets was Captain Joan Huydecoper's The Company of Govert Flinck. This painting now hangs in the civic guard gallery of the Amsterdam Historical Museum.
Van der Helst also painted the regents of the Voetboogdoelen in 1656. This work is now also in the Amsterdam Historical Museum.
In 1653 and 1654, parties were held in the Voetboogdoelen to celebrate the foundation of the Amsterdam Guild of Saint Luke (the artists' guild). At the first Saint Luke feast, which took place on October 20, 1653, Joost van den Vondel was honored as a poet with a laurel wreath.
By clicking on the painting you can see the beauty and accuracy of his work. The portrait took approximately 3 years and was finally finished in 1648-51. I paid half a year's salary some 200 Hollandse Florins to have my image painted. I also paid for my good friend Major general Sir James Lumsden who can be seen to my immediate top left. Finding myself in the painting was the fulfilment of a reoccurring dream that I would one day walk into a big hall and find myself in an oil painting. Ironically I must have seen it originally in the 1970's but I was more focused on viewing the Nacht Wacht by Rembrandt at the time; wrong painting, right idea!
A wonderful memory made manifest. I had my image carved in a medieval door with my wife Jehanne des Armoises in 1440, then painted in 1648-51 in Amsterdam and then photographed in Savannah, Georgia 1861. All money well spent! In this life I have written several books which continues the trend of leaving information for me to find in the future.
Ons Doelstraat 1
In this life I stayed with my Nederlandse Mama en Papa here in Boxtel 1975 - 1978. I worked in Gezondheidsdienst voor Dieren in 1976 and the Encebe 1978. In 1979 I attended the 350th anniversary of the Siege of Den Bosch 1629.