National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Empire Triumphant over Avarice Adriaen de Vries (artist)
Netherlandish, c. 1556 - 1626
Empire Triumphant over Avarice, 1610
overall: 77.3 x 34.8 x 31.8 cm (30 7/16 x 13 11/16 x 12 1/2 in.)
Widener Collection
Not on View
From the Tour: Mannerism
Object 8 of 8

Adriaen de Vries was born in the Netherlands, but he spent considerable time in Italy. This statuette reveals the influence of Michelangelo and the Florentine sculptor Giambologna, with whom de Vries worked. The figures are powerful, their interaction energetic and dynamic. Even the surface is animated, reflecting light from restlessly modulated planes.

This statuette was made for the Hapsburg emperor Rudolph II in Prague, after de Vries had been appointed a court artist. An allegorical figure of Empire holds the wreath of victory over a vanquished figure of Avarice, a money bag at her feet. The theme of empire triumphant is natural enough, but why the triumph over avarice? In the early 1600s Rudolph was in a weakened political position and hard pressed to pay for his wars against the Turks. He blamed his failures on grudging and insufficient financial support. At least in his private study, where he kept this bronze, he could contemplate an unrealized triumph over stingy “allies.”

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Exhibition History

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