Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department

Humanities and Cultural Studies

Major Professor

Brendan Cook, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Pamela Merrill Brekka, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Daniel Belgrad, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Sara Dykins-Callahan, Ph.D.


Amsterdam, Calvinist, dollhouse, housewife, identity, play, Netherlands, toy, home


This thesis shines novel light on the Dutch pronk poppenhuis, as a microcosm which models the simultaneously destabilization and establishment of agency among the Baroque burgher wives who commissioned them. Closely discussing seventeenth-century Dutch female ambitions, this article will explore the ways in which these housewives were both taught to behave appropriately in Dutch society and how they then displayed obedience to those values. I concurrently argue that the commissioning of and interaction with the pronk poppenhuis, particularly Pronk Poppenhuis De Patronella Dunois, simultaneously represents and perpetuates the growth of agency within the commissioner. This will be done through close inspection of the commissioner along with the wide variety of foreign and costly materials included in Pronk Poppenhuis de Patronella Dunois. Research conducted on still life paintings from the same period and region provide relevant supplemental evidence along with various other theories to address understudied elements of the dollhouse. This thesis provides vital encouragement to return to seventeenth-century Dutch artifacts, particularly those denoted as toys, in order to better understand larger social and cultural expectations and ambitions through microcosmic objects representing lived in spaces. Finally, this thesis provides a platform for further research into under-explored subjects of female agency in seventeenth-century Netherlands.