Lorenzo Bartolini, Caritas Educatrice, ca. 1842

AMSTERDAM.- Thanks to a donation from the Dutch lottery BankGiro Lottery, the Rijksmuseum has acquired five sculptures, all of which make an exceptional contribution to the Rijksmuseum’s international collection of sculptures. The exhibition gives an impression of the diversity of European sculpture over three centuries. The highlight of the exhibition is a life-sized Greyhound sculpture dating back to 1657. From 21 April 2009, the sculptures can be admired in the Acquisitions Hall of the Rijksmuseum.

All techniques and materials available at the time were used, resulting in carved wood, cast bronze, modelled clay and chiselled marble sculptures. They come from Flanders, France and Italy. They also display a variety of styles and subjects, from the intimate portrait of a pet and two classical, subdued reliefs, to a dramatic baroque piece and a larger-than-life marble allegory.

The highlight of the exhibition is a lively sculpture of a Greyhound: the dog is looking up, alert, as though listening to his master. On his collar is the coat of arms of the former Roose family from Antwerp, so it is likely the dog really existed. This exceptional animal ‘portrait’ was created by the famous sculptor Artus Quellinus (1609-1668). From Antwerp, the sculptor is known in the Netherlands primarily for his sculptures displayed in and on the city hall of Amsterdam, which is currently the Royal Palace Amsterdam or Paleis op de Dam.

The following are also on display in the Acquisitions Hall:

1Francois Lespingola (1644-1705) Hercules rescuing Prometheus, ca. 1670, bronze on gilded bronze base from ca. 1750.
Prometheus stole fire from the gods and gave it to mortals, for which he was severely punished. He was chained to a rock and every day his liver was pecked out by an eagle. In this sculpture, the French sculptor Lespingola captures the moment the hero Hercules relieves Prometheus’ suffering. It is a dramatic scene full of movement, with Hercules and the flapping bird on either side of the chained Prometheus.

4Louis Simon Boizot (1743-1809) Offerings to Venus and Ceres, Rome 1766, terracotta
French sculptor Boizot won the prestigious Prix de Rome in 1762, which enabled him to work in Rome for a couple of years. These ‘three-dimensional paintings’ were produced during this time. Boizot was inspired by classical sculptures in his portrayal of these scenes of the goddesses Venus and Ceres being offered flowers and fruits. He depicted the depth and fabric masterfully, for example in the transparent veil of the women in the relief on the left.

Lorenzo Bartolini (1777-1850), Caritas educatrice, Florence, ca. 1842-1845, marble
This woman is taking care of two children and is encouraging the older child to read. The text on his scroll reads: ‘’Do unto others as you would have them do unto you’. The women symbolises the virtue Caritas (neighbourly love) in her role as educator. Bartolini created the first version of this sculpture for the grand duke of Tuscany in 1836. It is not known for whom the second, improved version was intended.


Artus Quellinus, Greyhound, oak, 1657