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Pieter Teyler van der Hulst (1702-1778)

Pieter Teyler van der Hulst

Founder of Teylers Museum

Pieter Teyler van der Hulst (1702-1778) was a descendant of a Mennonite family, active in the textile industry, that emigrated from England to Haarlem in the sixteenth century for religious reasons. He became a successful entrepreneur and investor. As a typical representative of the Enlightenment, Teyler had a broad interest in science and art. He built collections in both areas and was also very interested in theology.

Wybrand Hendriks, Portrait of Pieter Teyler van der Hulst, 1787.

Wybrand Hendriks, Portrait of Pieter Teyler van der Hulst, 1787.

In 1728, Pieter Teyler married Helena Wijnands Verscheven. In 1756, shortly after his wife's death, Pieter Teyler drew up his will. He bequeathed his considerable fortune to a foundation to be managed by five directors, chosen among his Mennonite friends. Teyler mentioned the objectives of the foundation as promoting religion and encouraging the arts and sciences. Teylers Foundation is still active in those areas, by organizing competitions by the two Societies that fall under the foundation. Charity and poor relief are also among the objectives of Teylers Foundation.

Following his will, in 1778, after Pieter Teyler's death, the Foundation became the owner of his house on Damstraat and of his collections in the field of natural history, medals and drawing, as well as his library. Although the first directors regarded little importance to Teyler's own collection, which was largely disposed of, they commissioned Leendert Viervant in 1779 to design a 'Boek- en Konstzael' behind the Fundatiehuis. This is how the Oval Room was created, which opened to the public in 1784.

Thanks to Pieter Teyler, we still have access to the art and science from past centuries.

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Spaarne 16, 2011 CH Haarlem

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