Group above portal Magistrates' Chamber

Artus Quellinus the Elder1655-01-01/1655-01-02

Royal Palace Amsterdam

Royal Palace Amsterdam

In the centre sits Justice holding her usual attributes: a sword and scales. The two figures she is treading underfoot are King Midas and Invidia, the personifications of Avarice and Envy. On her left is Death, with his hour glass. Behind him are two putti, the one on the left holding a scourge and the one on the right a lightning bolt. On the right sits Punishment with various instruments of torture. Behind her are two harpies.

Additional information:
Below Justice’s feet are two vices. On the left is King Midas, representing avarice. According to legend, Midas asked for the gift of turning all that he touched into gold. Since the same thing happened to his food and drink, the gift soon became a curse. The figure on the right is Invidia, a woman consumed by envy. She feeds on serpents and has an emaciated body, a sickly face, squinting eyes and a venomous tongue. She is so poisonous that instead of hair, serpents grow from her head. This group represents the desire for a just Amsterdam, where avarice and envy – characteristics of thieves and murderers – are not tolerated. The skeleton with its hour glass symbolises Time and the revelation of Truth. In the end, Justice and Truth will always prevail. As part of the administration of justice, a prisoner might be taken to the Torture Chamber (Pijnkamer), on the ground floor of the Town Hall. Pena Punishment with her instruments of torture alludes to this harrowing way of getting at the truth. A suspect could not be condemned to death until a confession had been obtained. Once the prisoner had recovered a little from being tortured, he would be taken to hear his death sentence ceremonially pronounced by the town clerk in the Tribunal (Vierschaar) in the presence of the sheriff and magistrates, the burgomasters and the public.

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  • Title: Group above portal Magistrates' Chamber
  • Date Created: 1655-01-01/1655-01-02
  • Sculptor: Artus Quellinus
  • Place Part Of: Netherlands
  • Display: Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Description: Marble
  • Type: Sculpture
  • Rights: © Stichting Koninklijk Paleis Amsterdam.


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