Paint mill ‘De Kat’


Paint mill De Kat

Rembrandt’s famous colors are still made here in the traditional way…

Paint mill ‘De Kat’ is a unique windmill in the Zaan region that processes raw materials to make pigments for artisanal paint production, according to the recipe devised by world-famous painter Rembrandt van Rijn. The mill was built in this spot in 1646, and its history includes a fire in 1781, after which it was rebuilt. The windmill was dismantled down to the level of the balcony in 1904, but in 1960 it was made complete once again with the installation of the mill body of paint mill ‘De Duinjager’ upon the substructure. This reconstruction restored the mill to its full glory. With around 130,000 visitors per year, this is the most popular and busiest windmill in the Netherlands. The mill’s high balcony provides breathtaking views of the river and the polder. The windmill is equipped with two pairs of millstones, one pair for use with chalk and the other for paint pigments. Miller Kempenaar is a master craftsman when it comes to traditional paint-making techniques, and his pigments are highly sought after by artists and restorers from around the world, as well as the Rembrandt House and the Van Gogh Museum closer to home.

Paint mill De Kat
Paint mill De Kat

The chalk ground in the mill is used for a variety of purposes, such as marking white lines on sports fields. It is also supplied to the Forbo factory for incorporation into linoleum. The chalk barn adjacent to the windmill has walls that can be opened to allow the chalk (which comes from the Champagne region) to dry.

Over the course of history, there have been around 50 paint mills in total in the Zaan region. Of these, Paint Mill ‘De Kat’ is the world’s sole remaining paint mill. There are many unique paint products available from the shop belonging to paint mill ‘De Kat’, as well as a wide range of fun and original ‘windmill’ souvenirs!

Paint mill De Kat

Construction of the Zaanse Schans in 1960 with paint mill De Kat in the background

Paint mill De Kat

The Oostzijderveld in Zaandam in 1885, with mill ‘De Duinjager’ (1696) to the right. The mill body of this windmill was later mounted on ‘De Kat’.

National monument 1646
Mill body relocated in 1960
(formerly located in
Oostzijderveld, Zaandam)