4 December 2019
ARTUS QUELLINUS (1609-1668), ANTWERP, MID-17TH CENTURY
Terracotta relief; with a label on the proper right edge inscribed 'S317'; some losses and restorations to the borders
12¾ in. (32.5 cm.) high
Mallet, London, where acquired by Professor Michael Jaffé in 1963, and by inheritance to the present owners.
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Mallet at Bourden House, Sculptures in Terracotta, London, 1963, 22X-9XI, s. 10, no. 7.
Dusseldorf, Kunstmuseum, Europäische Barockplastik am Niederrhein: Grupello und Seine Seit, 1971, no. 238.
The present relief is a rare example of a work by the influential Flemish Baroque sculptor Artus Quellinus the Elder still in private hands. Born into an artistic family, Quellinus travelled to Rome in 1635 to train under his compatriot Francois Duequesnoy. On his return he introduced into Flemish sculpture the Baroque style developed by Duquesnoy, which was based on classical sculpture. After his return to Antwerp in 1639, he eventually moved to Amsterdam, where he worked for fifteen years on the new city hall together with the lead architect Jacob van Campen. His sculpture for Amsterdam City Hall became his most important and influential body of work.
The present relief was first recognised as a work by Quellins in 1963 by Jaap Leeuwenberg and it was subsequently included in the 1971 exhibition at the Kunstmuseum, Dusseldorf on Netherlandish baroque sculpture. The relief has similar characteristics to the models Quellinus made in preperation for the reliefs in Amsterdam City Hall; in particular, the figure of the Madonna in the present relief is close to the personification of Europe in the relief of the Four Continents Paying Homage to Amsterdam in the Rijksmuseum, on loan from the city of Amsterdam (inv. no. BK-AM-51-3). The head types, soft-draping garments and the relief projection suggest a dating to the 1640s. The relief may have been intended as a small devotional image.
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