The De Pinto Family

The Portuguese-Jewish De Pinto family came to the trading centre Amsterdam in 1646 from Antwerp via Rotterdam. They purchased a large mansion just outside the then poor Jewish neighbourhood. Elias Bouwman, who had built the Portuguese Synagogue a few years earlier, carried out drastic renovations in 1686.

 

The Pinto House on the Antoniebreestraat, now a public library, 1998. Photo: City Archive Amsterdam

Economist and philosopher

The Portuguese-Jewish De Pinto family came to the trading centre Amsterdam in 1646 from Antwerp via Rotterdam. They purchased a large mansion just outside the then poor Jewish neighbourhood. The most well-known occupant of these premises, Isaäc de Pinto (1717-1787), was the chief administrator of both the East and the West Indies Company. He also advised governments on economic affairs. He was the first to emphasise the importance of circulating funds for the economy and that national wealth did not result from agriculture alone. De Pinto educated himself in philosophy and disputed Voltaire because of his supposed anti-Semitism. De Pinto met with financial difficulties and sold the house in 1758.

 

The Pinto House surrounded by an urban renewal project, 1973. Photo: City Archive Amsterdam

Demolition threatens

In the 1950s, the municipal council decided in favour of an underground and a four-lane road straight through the neighbourhood. The buildings around the Pintohuis (house) were demolished. There were protest groups against the threatening demolition of this historical monument. The municipality agreed to spare the building in 1973. The Pintohuis was restored in 1975 and the building lines were restored with new housing units after the underground was constructed.

 

Public reading room in chamber of the Pinto House, 1998. Photo: City Archive Amsterdam

Public function

The building has been in use as Public Library since 1975. Both the construction phase of 1602 by Jan Janszoon Carel as well as that of De Pinto from 1686 are clearly visible in the interior. The original ceiling paintings can be admired during opening hours. The initials IP, of Isaäc de Pinto, can be seen in the wrought iron trelliswork in front of the windows.