Restoration project Triumph of Peace completed


Recently the ensemble of three paintings entitled ‘Triumph of Peace’ has returned to the Bolzaal after a restoration project of two years.

The restoration studio ARRS has cleaned, retouched and varnished the 4 meter tall oil paintings. Two of the old wooden frames, attached to the canvasses, have been replaced by new ones and the paintings are protected against dirt and dust from the back side. Finally the paintings were carefully replaced in the ceiling of the Bolzaal.

The Bolzaal is named after the paintings located on the walls of the room made by the Dutch artist Ferdinand Bol, a student of Rembrandt. The three paintings located in the ceiling of the Bolzaal are painted by the 17th century artist Gérard de Lairesse (1640-1711) who was a well known painter in the second half of the 17th century. In the beginning of his career he was clearly influenced by Rembrandt but later on he leaned towards a more academic style of painting.

The Bolzaal itself was specially designed as a 17th century period room in order to match the interior with the paintings. The room is decorated with beautifully carved wooden wainscoting, stained glass windows and matching brass chandeliers.

The Carnegie Foundation purchased the paintings by Lairesse at an auction house in Amsterdam a few years before the Peace Palace had actually been built. In the catalogue of the auction house the three paintings by Lairesse were listed as ‘un plafond allégorique’with the title: ‘Le Triomphe de la Paix’: a wonderful purchase for the soon to be erected palace of peace.

However it is really worth mentioning that the paintings were originally made for a house at the Herengracht 446 in Amsterdam owned by the mayor, Andries de Graeff. Andries de Graeff commissioned the artist Lairesse to set up an ensemble of paintings to praise the mayor and family members and particularly to reinforce their political role at the time. De Graeff was seen as a defender of the republican part of society in Amsterdam (a ‘regent’). Lairesse named the triptych: Allegory on Concord, Freedom and Security (of the city of Amsterdam). The goddesses of Security (Minerva), Freedom (Libertas), and Concord (Concordia), are thus seen from left to right. A shield baring the coat of arms of the city of Amsterdam is clearly seen in the centre of it all. To stress the importance of true freedom for the city under the reign of the republicans or regenten, the goddess of Freedom with her Liberty Hat is represented (hat on a pole), she is about to be crowned by a putto holding a corona navalis, the naval crown. A watergod, IJ and a god of the river Amstel, are shown in the left and right painting to show the significance of the harbor of Amsterdam.

Lairesse finished this large assignment in 1672, a crisis year in Dutch history, the so called ‘Rampjaar’. The Republic was being attacked by several countries and the political situation between ‘regenten’ and ‘orangisten’ was heating up dramatically. Finally Andries de Graeff had to resign as major of Amsterdam and his political role was of no importance anymore.

More than 200 years later the paintings were offered for sale in Amsterdam and perhaps for commercial reasons given the new title: Triumph of Peace, referring to the Peace of Münster.

Now we can admire the paintings in the Bolzaal of The Peace Palace for years to come as ‘Triumph of Peace’, bearing in mind that the ensemble was painted in one of the most tumultuous years in Dutch history.

Please visit the special website which contains photographic and video reports on the restoration and the research of the ceiling paintings ‘Triumph of Peace’.


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