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last revised 09/01/11

Dutch Statenjacht

• A new modelling project under development •

The Utrecht Statenjacht

History and context

Until the advent of steam trains and motor cars in many areas around Europe water transport was the fastest and most comfortable way of travelling. If one looks at maps of the Netherlands from 300 or 400 years ago it is very obvious that water transport was the means of choice for all classes of travellers. Even today, after the extensive programmes of diking that set in in the 1500s, it is still possible to go by boat to many places in the Low Countries.  For many centuries regular boat services along the canals, rivers and across wider stretches of open waters, such as the Zuiderzee, were covered by regular boat services. On inland water ways these were the 'trekschuit', narrow boats with a cabin towed usually by horses and on the open water the 'buurtschepen' (literally 'neighbourhood boats'), sailing boats of various description, such as boeiers. There were, of course, also individual boats for hire and more affluent people would keep their own boats.

The Mercedes and Rolls Royce of the day was the 'statenjacht' or other, more modest types of 'jacht', such as 'pavilioenjacht'. They were single-masted ships of 15 to 30 m length and usually highly decorated according to the contemporary fashion. Owners were affluent private persons or more likely companies, such as the Verenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie (VOC), and corporations, such as the town councils of Amsterdam, Rotterdam or Antwerp. The 'statenjacht' was used as would be 'official' cars today, to move company executives or dignitaries from place to place so that they could execute their business. Another use was to entertain these people and their guests. For this purpose they were fitted out with state cabins, kitchens, bedrooms and other relevant amenities. Statenjachten, some of them being good sailors, were also used as reconnaissance and dispatch boats in a naval context, notably during the Dutch-English wars in the 17th century. Statenjachten stand at the beginning of pure pleasure-boating too.

F.C. van Douwe (1659-1735)
© Maritiem Museum Rotterdam

H. Dubbels (1621-1707)
© National Gallery London

L. Bakhuizen (1631-1708)
© National Maritime Museum Greenwich

W. van den Velde the Younger
© National Maritime Museum Greenwich
L.P. Verschuier
© National Maritime Museum Greenwich
S. de Vlieger
© National Maritime Museum Greenwich
W. van den Velde the Younger
© private collection
D. Kleyne
© National Maritime Museum Greenwich

There are estimations that between 1600 and 1800 around 200 statenjachten were built in the Netherlands. The last specimen survived in the Dutch navy until 1843.

The general layout of the statenjacht has not dramatically changed over the roughly 250 years of its development and use, i.e. from the mid 16th century to the early 19th century. Interestingly, apart from changes in the style and extent of sculptural decoration the most notable change is the adoption of the gaff rig in place of the spritsail at the end of the 17th century. There are, of course, changes in other details of rigging too.

As royalty around Europe became to know these jachts, a luxury export market developed. Some where also given away as stately presents by the Dutch Governments. Thus 17th and 18th century kings of England, Prussia, Sweden and Russia had yachts of Dutch origin, some of which were later copied and adapted to the navigational needs in the respective territorial waters.


The statenjacht as a type of boat was developed at a time when shipbuilding drawings were not normally used. Therefore their early history is only known through artistic representations. There are numerous paintings and drawings that show statenjachten. Some of these visual representations are more concerned with the decoration, having served indeed as design studies, rather than with the technical details of construction. From the beginning of the 18th century on technical drawings become available.

There are also a number of contemporary models, rigged and unrigged, preserved in the maritime museums of Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Antwerp.

Model c. 1700, M1439 18th century model,  M520A
Speigeljacht (1776), M2123 Early 18th century model, M979
Admiralty jacht D'MERMIN, M195
Model c. 1675, A.0137

Maritiem Museum
Nederlands Scheepvaartmuseum Amsterdam

Utrecht, unlike other cities such as Amsterdam or Rotterdam, apparently never owned a statenjacht of this type (though Utrecht did have trekschuiten and the like). However, in the late 1990s a group of people in Utrecht decided to develop a reconstruction of a statenjacht that completed in 2003 eventually became known as the 'Utrecht Statenjacht'. The sources collected in developing this free reconstruction are discussed in HOVING (2008). The starting point was a drawing by Pieter van Zwijndregt in the Rotterdam Maritime Museum, dated 1746. Other details, including the sculptural decoration and colouring scheme were developed from contemporary sources. The material used in the reconstruction of the 'Utrecht Statenjacht' is collated on a DVD that is available through their Web-site.

Apart from HOVING (2008) the most authoritative book on Dutch jachts is JAEGER (2001).

W. van den Velde the Younger
© National Maritime Museum Greenwich
P. van Zwijndregt (1746)
© Maritiem Museum Rotterdam

Reconstruction drawings,
available on the Web-site of the 'Utrecht Statenjacht'
© ?

The Model

The model is based on the resin kit produced by Artitec in 1:90 (HO) scale. This company has developed a real mastery in casting complex and large resin parts. In addition to the hull, the kit contains castings for various deck features, guns and carriages, for rigging blocks,as well as the mast and spars. The kit also contains a small fret of etched parts, mainly for the ironwork of the rigging. While the etched parts are well made as such, they are for the most part not really useful for representing the forged ironwork. For instance, mast hoops are, of course, flat in the horizontal direction, while they should really be short tubes. Other parts simply lack the needed plasticity. Hence most of the etched parts will not be used. Similarly, the cast rigging blocks will be replaced by home-made ones. Various other details will be improved for better definition of the shapes. Although the casting is well made, there are certain limitations due to the casting process. A company policy of Artitec is to limit the number of parts and to cast-on as many details as possible. There are limitations to undercuts in the silicone rubber moulds. So some additional engraving will be needed.

The Artitec polyurethane resin castings

Not only are Artitec masters in casting kits, but also in painting them as is evidenced for instance by the diorama of the Texel Roadstead and models in various other museums around the Netherlands. Here is what they think the model could look like:

Finished model
painted by
Models of statenjachten by Artitec
on the Texel Roadstead Diorama

I intend to complete the kit not as a realistic model, but rather as a 'model of a model'. There is a certain aesthetic pleasure in these old, contemporary ship models with the deep colour of their waxed or varnished wood. This a resin kit, of course, and it will be a bit of a fake, but I shall attempt to reproduce this effect. I have not decided whether I shall complete the kit as a rigged model, or as hull model only. While a hull model has its own attractions, I am also tempted by the 18th century rigging, which is new and uncharted territory for me.

Of course, someone is always faster: below are some pictures, taking with permission of the author from an interesting building-log for the 'Statenjacht' on a German-speaking modelling forum. For instance, here are some experiments with colouring for a 'realistic' version of the hull:

Base colours only.
Carvings with ochre

Base colours. Ochre
underpainting and

polychrome details
Polychrome painting
with glazing in
Van Dyke Brown
Base colours with
glazing in
reddish brown
As before, but with
2nd glazing in
Van Dyke Brown

paintwork around
the stern

The nicely finished hull. I think my model will look somewhat
similar, but as a 'model of a model' the carvings will be gilded,
rather than kept in ochre as per prototype

To be continued ...


AKKERMAN, P. (2010): 17e eeuws Statenjacht. Bouwbeschrijving voor een model.- Scheepsmodelbouw 1: 80 p., Emmen (Lanasta).

ANONYM (1935): Nederlandsch Historisch Scheepvaart Museum, Platen Album.- 61 p., Amsterdam.

CRONE, G.C.E. (1926): Nederlandsche Jachten, Binnenschepen Visschersvaartuigen en daarmee Verwante kleine Zeeschepen 1650 -1900.- 309 p., 85 figs., Amsterdam (Swets & Zeitlinger, reprint 1978 by Schiepers, Schiedam).

HOVING, A. (2008): Het Statenjacht Utrecht.- 176 S., Franeker (Uitgeverij Van Wijnen).

JAEGER, W. (2001): Die Niederländische Jacht im 17. Jahrhundert.- 304 p. Bielefeld (Verlag für Regionalgeschichte).

NEDERLANDSCH HISTORISCH SCHEEPVAART MUSEUM [Ed.] (1969): Descriptive Catalogue.- 104 p., Amsterdam (Nederlandsch Historisch Sheepvaart Museum).

OSTROM, C. van (1988): Ronde en platbodems schepen en jachten.- 144 p., Alkmaar (De Alk b.v.).

VOORBEIJTEL, W. (1943): Bechrijvende Catalogus der Scheepsmodellen en Scheepsbouwkundige Tekeningen 1600-1900.- 191 p. Amsterdam (Nederlandsch Scheepvartmuseum).

Selected links

http://museum.antwerpen.be/scheepvaartmuseum/ - The Antwerp Maritime Museum (currently closed)

http://www.bataviawerf.nl/ - The Batavia-Shipyard for reconstruction of 17th century vessels

http://www.maritiemdigitaal.nl/ - Digital portal to the Dutch maritime museum

- The Rotterdam Maritime Museum

- The diorama of the Texel Roadstead at the Maritiem & Jutters Museum in Oudeschild on Texel

http://www.statenjacht.nl/ - The replica jacht from Utrecht

http://www.sarshoutbouw.nl/ - The builder of the the 'Utrecht Statenjacht'

http://www.scheepvaartmuseum.nl/ - The Amsterdam Maritime Museum (currently closed)

http://voc-kenniscentrum.nl/ - The Verenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie (VOC)

- The Verenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie (VOC)

Contact: webmaster at wefalck dot eu

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