Dating artists and prostitutes

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The client is often a well-dressed young man from a good family, or a farmer or peasant of more advanced age, and the men are presented as fools who notice neither the cheating nor robbing.

This is the image, but what can we discover about the reality of prostitution?

As one of Amsterdam’s prime tourist attractions, the music hall served to solidify the city’s reputation for immorality. Foreigners often wrote that the municipal government judged prostitution in a harbor city like Amsterdam as being impossible to suppress and that to do so was bad policy, so the city tolerated and even, secretly, regulated the trade. Tolerance and informal regulation gradually became the rule only in the second half of the eighteenth century.

In the seventeenth century, the city government would have preferred to chase the strumpets from town, but given a police force (comprising the bailiff, his substitutes, and their constables) of only thirty men, this was hardly feasible.

) are a familiar type of seventeenth-century Dutch genre painting (fig. In this article, I shall not grapple with the tension between the obvious sexual pleasure conveyed by many of the writings and pictures of the time and the adherence to a religion that stressed the sinfulness of bodily pleasure above all else.

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Unwed couples living together ran little risk of arrest.

Adultery, however, was another story: it was viewed very seriously indeed.

This was especially the case, it must be said, where the adulterers were wealthy (or, in Amsterdam, were Jews), because the charge of adultery could be bought off (“compounded”) with a third of the fine going to the bailiff personally.

Reformation authors fulminated against any toleration of prostitution.

In the sixteenth century, the policy toward prostitution in Protestant Europe changed from regulation to prohibition and the Netherlands were no exception.

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