AACHEN, Hans von
(b. 1552, Köln, d. 1615, Praha)

Allegory of Peace, Art and Abundance

Oil on canvas, 197 x 142 cm
The Hermitage, St. Petersburg

The allegorical painting in the Hermitage is a characteristic work by Hans von Aachen, who was himself a typical representative of the distinctive cosmopolitan school that formed at the turn of the 17th century at the court of Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II in Prague. The three female figures embody Peace (with an olive branch), Science and the Liberal Arts (with a sphere and a palette) and Abundance (with a goblet and a horn of plenty). The subject was intended to symbolically extols the Emperor's peaceful policies that led to prosperity and the flourishing of learning and the arts. The allegorical, encoded content, the unstable composition with movement along the diagonal, the aristocratic elongation of the figure, the cold tone of the picture, elements of eroticism and disturbing lighting are all features of the Rudolfine artistic circle that eclectically combined features of Italian and Low Countries Mannerism.