- De Amsterdamse bouwmeester en landmeter Jan Jacobszoon Bolten (1738-na 1811)
- Bulletin (KNOB)
- Volume | Issue number
- 112 | 1
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Humanities (FGw)
- Amsterdam Institute for Humanities Research (AIHR)
The Amsterdam architect and surveyor Jan Jacobszoon Bolten (1738-after 1811) is one of many private architects whose name pops up now and then in the literature. This essay, for the first time, sketches his quite varied career. Since mid-1768 he held the post of architect and surveyor in the district of Zutphen, a position that he gave up again after just one year, probably because he couldn’t get by on his wages. His task consisted mainly of minor maintenance work. His biggest assignment was the large-scale repair of the roof of the Gothic Broeren church in Zutphen, which would lead to a blinding row with the master carpenter of the district, Barthold Bobbink (1715-1779). Bolten’s wonderful drawing of the roof construction is the only drawing by him that has survived. The work would only be finished later, under Bolten’s successor Teunis Wittenberg (1741-1816), who had also applied for the position in 1768. The present, elegant spirelet was designed by him in 1772.
Bolten returned to Amsterdam, although he remained active in the province of Gelderland. In 1771-72, in Nijkerk, he extended the meeting hall of the local government, the so-called ‘ambtsjonkers’
and by drawing up conditions, specifications and budgets he was involved in the plans for a new church tower there. This tower would eventually be built in 1775-76, after a design by fellow Amsterdam architect Hendrik Gerrit van Raan (1751-1821). It is not clear whether Bolten himself also made designs for this tower. In any case, in 1775, he also entered the competition for the new town hall in Groningen, which was eventually won by Jacob Otten Husly (1738-1796). From Bolten’s entry only an untidy description accompanying the drawings remains in the municipal archives, so that it is difficult to picture what his project must have looked like. It may have been similar in character to that of the Amsterdam drawing master Jan Uijtewaal (1733-1795): a sort of gigantic countryhouse with a modest portico instead of the large temple peristyle specified in the competition’s programme. Nevertheless, Bolten’s efforts were rewarded with an honourable mention by the jury.
Over time, Bolten had also established himself as a cartographer but his last known activities were of a quite different nature. As co-founder (1779) of the Society of Mathematical Science ‘Een onvermoeide Arbeid komt alles te boven’ (relentless Labour overcomes everything) he published two short essays about locks in 1796. Before that, in 1780, he had been involved in a — rather unsuccessful — experiment with a tilted paddle wheel for water mills in the Nieuwe Vaart waterway in Amsterdam. These were designed by the brothers Antoine George Eckhardt (1740-1810) and Frans Frederik Eckhardt (1741-1825) from The Hague, a very versatile, be it very idiosyncratic pair of inventors. After the failed experiment they went to London for a couple of decades and treated the British to an avalanche of new and inventive creations. Not so Bolten. He spent the rest of his days in
anonymity and in 1810 moved to Naarden — his wife’s native town — where he vanished in the fog of history.
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