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Relief - Plaster cast of relief by Artus Quellinus

Plaster cast of relief by Artus Quellinus

  • Object:

    Relief

  • Place of origin:

    Amsterdam (made)

  • Date:

    after 1648 (made)
    before 1879 (cast)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Artus Quellinus the Elder (designer)
    Artus Quellinus the Elder (sculptor)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Plaster cast

  • Museum number:

    REPRO.1883-25

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This relief shows Cybele wearing a crown and holding a key, with a lion and a wolf at her feet. It is from the galleries leading to the Burgerzaal (the offices of government officials) at the Amsterdam Stadhuis, and it is one of eight reliefs of the earth and planets depicted as Roman gods. These are considered to be among the most refined sculptures produced by Quellinus and his assistants. The cast was acquired by the South Kensington Museum before 1879 although it was not displayed at that date.

Physical description

Relief showing Cybele wearing a crown and holding a key, with a lion and a wolf at her feet.

Place of Origin

Amsterdam (made)

Date

after 1648 (made)
before 1879 (cast)

Artist/maker

Artus Quellinus the Elder (designer)
Artus Quellinus the Elder (sculptor)

Materials and Techniques

Plaster cast

Dimensions

Height: 66 cm approximately, Width: 36 cm approximately

Object history note

This cast was first recorded in the registers of the South Kensington Museum in the year 1883. At this time, little information was available about either the original object from which it was modelled, or the cast-maker. The register indicates that the cast was likely received in 1879, and that it was ordered to be registered, and packed and deposited in a box in the crypt of the new Cast Courts by Richard Thompson, the Assistant Director, on 3 July 1880. A note in the register suggests this cast was one of several taken from destroyed buildings in Amsterdam, and it is described as 'Belgian school work.' However, in 1885, additional examples by Quellinus from the Amsterdam Stadhuis were acquired in exchange with the Museum of Industrial Arts, Haarlem. These casts were taken from the terracotta designs for the reliefs, which are now in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. It is unclear if the earlier group of casts were moulded after the terracotta models or the relief panels in the Stadhuis.

Historical significance: The building was praised as 'the eighth wonder of the world', by the poet Joost van den Vondel in his epitaph for van Campen (Schoten 2010, 5).

Historical context note

Artus Quellinus (1609-1668) is considered to be the greatest Flemish sculptor of the Baroque period. His sculpture was strongly influenced by Northern classicism, and his nude sculptures reveal his familiarity with the art of Peter Paul Rubens, and that of the sculptural school which surrounded him, including the artists Hans van Mildert and Lucas Faydherbe. After early training with his father, Erasmus Quellinus (1584-1640), in 1634 he travelled to Italy to work in the studio of François du Quesnoy (1594-1643), a Flemish sculptor working in Rome.

Quellinus returned to Antwerp by 1639, and in 1648, he was commissioned to design decorations for the façades, walls, ceilings, and chimney pieces of the new Amsterdam Stadhius (now the Royal Palace), which was constructed by the architect Jacob van Campen (1595-1657). Quellinus' assistants included Rombout Berhults, Gabriel Grupello, Bartolomeus Eggers, and Artus Quellinus II, his first cousin.

The Amsterdam city council envisioned that the Dam Square surrounding the new Stadhuis would rival the Campus Martius in ancient Rome and the Piazza San Marco in Venice in physical grandeur. The paintings and sculptures in the Stadhuis would represent allegorical glorifications of Amsterdam's republican-minded government, and they would be based on the Bible and on texts by Livy and Cicero. Schoten writes that Quellinus' programme symbolised 'peace, prosperity, and Amsterdam's pivotal position in the world' (2010, 15).

The present sculpture is from the galleries leading to the Burgerzaal (the offices of government officials), and is one of eight reliefs of the earth and planets depicted as Roman gods. These are considered to be among the most refined sculptures produced by Quellinus and his assistants.

Descriptive line

Relief showing Cybele holding a key, with a lion and a wolf at her feet. A copy from the decoration by Artus Quellinus for the Stadhuis, Amsterdam. 19th-century plaster cast after 17th-century Dutch original.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Hans Vlieghe and Iris Kockelbergh. "Quellinus." Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. 17 Mar. 2011 .
Schoten, Frits. Artus Quellinus: Sculptor of Amsterdam. Amsterdam: Nieuw Amsterdam Press, 2010.
Colman, Pierre. La sculpture au siècle de Rubens dans les Pay-Bas méridionaux et la principauté de Liège. Bruxelles: Musée d'Art Ancien, 1977.
Fremantle, Katharine. The Baroque Town Hall of Amsterdam. Utrecht: Haentjens Dekker & Gumbert, 1959.
Bedaux, Jan Baptist. 'In Search for Simplicity: Interpreting the Amsterdam Town Hall'. In Selig, Karl-Ludwig ed., Polyanthea: Essays on Art and Literature in Honor of William Sebastian Heckscher. The Hague: Van der Heijden Publisher, 1993, pp. 37-41.

Production Note

19th-century plaster cast after 17th-century Dutch original.

Materials

Plaster

Techniques

Cast

Subjects depicted

Wolf; Lion

Categories

Sculpture

Collection

Sculpture Collection

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