On Prudences, far and near

Just a tiny posting to keep this blog alive. In a way, it is a follow-up of the first posting of this year, about Prudences I found in Rome (and maybe also a pinch to myself, urging me to write more about the trove of other art-mirrors we found there).

Anyway, this is not Rome. This is Antwerpen, and specifically its famous Grote Markt, with the Brabo Monument in front of the City Hall. We’ve been to the city twenty times, if not more, in different seasons and different times of the day (including a few trips already after I wrote my ‘seminal’ overview of the depictions of Prudence and her mirrors in art history – see Prudence at her Toilette.) And yet it was very, very recently that I finally paid attention to the sculptures

And yet it was very, very recently that I finally paid attention to the sculptures on the facade of the City Hall and found there – guess whom?

Prudence is the right sculpture if you look at the building:

(Just for the record, the other sculpture is of Justice; no mirrors)

The City Hall of Antwerpen has a complicated story. By the beginning of 16th century Antwerpen was one of the largest and most prosperous in Europe, and yet its ‘stadhuis’ was located in an old and small building. The first design for the new City Hall drafted by Antwerpen architect Domien de Waghemakere proposed a
building in a monumental Gothic style. This plan has never materialized because the majority of the materials gathered for the building had been instead used for city fortification.

The City Hall was finally completed in 1565, but already using different design developed by Cornelis Floris de Vriendt, Flemish sculptor and architect. However, this building was burned down by the Spaniards in 1576, during the Sack of Antwerp.  It was rebuilt three years later, but Cornelis Floris de Vriendt was already dead by then (he died in 1575). It could be another sculptor, likely Willem van den Broeck, who restored the sculptures (or even created his own.)

It was rebuilt three years later, but Cornelis Floris de Vriendt was already dead by then (he died in 1575). It could be another sculptor, likely Willem van den Broeck, who restored the sculptures (or perhaps even created his own ones, roughly following the first design – I don’t know, and can’t find online who exactly was the author of this Prudence.)

No can I say if the woman has the second head, of the Old Man:
PS:  Interestingly, but a few days later after my ‘sudden discovery’ I had a chance to visit the MAS (Museum aan de Stroom) museum in Antwerpen, with its large collection of artworks and other materials related to the history of the town. We’ve been there any times before, but I am sure haven’t noticed many revealing things.
This time I bumped into a large painting by the Dutch artist Hans Vredeman de Vries, created around 1585 and called An Allegory on the Surrender of Antwerp (1585)
(It’s not the best quality copy, since i-shmael took this photo in the last moment, and in a dark hall).
Nevertheless, it allows spotting one interesting figure among all these allegorical ladies gladly surrendering to the Spanish king Philipp II, I presume): And this is Prudence, with her recognisable mirror and ‘snake’:
Can it be that this Prudence is an allusion to the sculpture installed in the City Hall? Or is she just a reference to the king himself, who was known as Felipe II de España «el Prudente»?
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s