Catharina Hooft

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Catharina as a child, by Frans Hals. In her hand she holds a silver rattle with bells, a precious status symbol.

Catharina Pietersdr. Hooft (28 December 1618 in Amsterdam – 30 September 1691 in Ilpendam) was a woman of the Dutch Golden Age. She became famous at a very early age, when she was painted by Frans Hals. At the age of sixteen she married Cornelis de Graeff, nineteen years her senior and the most powerful regent and mayor of Amsterdam. Thus she became first lady of Soestdijk, one of the family's country houses. Catharina Hooft was also a Lady of the High and free Fief of Purmerland and Ilpendam.


The 18-year-old Catharina Hooft, second wife of Cornelis de Graeff, by Nicolaes Eliasz. Pickenoy in the Gemäldegalerie Berlin

Her father Pieter Jansz Hooft was a nephew of the Amsterdam mayor Cornelis Pietersz. Hooft and related to the renowned P.C. Hooft of the Muiderslot - a wealthy citizen. Her mother, Geertruid Overlander (daughter of Volkert Overlander), was forty-one and she and her husband had given up hope of having children when Catharina was born. On 14 August 1635 Catharina married Cornelis de Graeff, an older widower, whose first wife had been Catharina's cousin (her father's sister's child). The couple had themselves painted in princely fashion, in proper black with golden chains. Catharina bore two sons: Pieter and Jacob. When stadholder William II died in 1650, ten years later followed by his wife, Cornelis de Graeff was made one of the guardians of the 10-year-old William, the "Child of the State", who played with Catharina's sons. By the Act of Seclusion William was not allowed to accede and power remained in the regents hands.

Opposite the De Graeffs' house lived the powerful anti-Orangist Bicker family, consisting of Catharina’s brother-in-law and sister-in-law and their four daughters, one of whom married Catharina’s nephew, raadspensionaris Jan de Witt.

Catharina was widowed in 1664 and when, in 1672, William stepped out of the shadows to become general and stadholder, she changed political tack and - with her sons - became a supporter of the House of Orange. William bought the de Graeff hunting lodge and its surrounding fields, now the Soestdijk Palace, for only 18,755 guilder. Catharina outlived her husband for thirty years. She was buried in Amsterdam on October 6, 1691.


  • Graeff, P. de (P. de Graeff Gerritsz en Dirk de Graeff van Polsbroek) Genealogie van de familie De Graeff van Polsbroek, Amsterdam 1882.
  • Bruijn, J. H. de Genealogie van het geslacht De Graeff van Polsbroek 1529/1827, met bijlagen. De Built 1962-63.
  • Moelker, H.P. De heerlijkheid Purmerland en Ilpendam (1978 Purmerend)

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Catharina Hooft
Born: 28 December 1618 Died: 30 September 1691
Preceded by
Maria Overlander (Widow of Frans Banning Cocq)
17th Lady of the Free and high Fief of Purmerland and Ilpendam between 1678 and 1690 together with his son Jacob de Graeff)
Succeeded by
Pieter de Graeff