QUELLINUS, Artus I
(b. 1609, Antwerpen, d. 1668, Antwerpen)
The Four Continents Paying Homage to Amsterdamc. 1650
Town Hall, Amsterdam
In 1650, Quellinus moved to Amsterdam, where for fourteen years he directed the vast project of providing sculptural decoration for the new Town Hall, built and decorated to the plans of Jacob van Campen.
The intention was that the enormous town hall by its monumental appearance and its ingenious programme of decoration would express the commercial power and wealth of Amsterdam. Quellinus's sculpture was most explicitly utilized in the service of political propaganda in the giant reliefs with which the two great pediments of the building were decorated.
On the western pediment is the Maid of Amsterdam with the sources of her prosperity, the Rivers Amstel and IJ, to which the four continents pay homage. At the top is Atlas lifting the world. The enormous bronze statues crowning the corners of the pediment are female personifications of the virtues on which the ethical conduct of the city government was based.