Four Continents / The Triumph of the Catholic Church
Dating: 18th century
Material: Oil on Canvas
Dimensions (cm): 136,5 x 183
Inv. no.: PD0484
This allegoric painting represents the four Continents. The chromatic palette is diverse and the light falls mainly on the woman who represents Europe, the central character, who draws ones attention.
It is easy to understand why Europe is in the centre. The Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, French and English controlled the seas and all of the Trade goods converged into Europe. The biggest cities in the world, at that time, were Lisbon, Seville, Cadiz, Venice, Genoa, Antwerp, Amsterdam and London.
On the streets, you could ‘breathe’ the African gold, the American silver and exotic woods, the Indian spices and the oriental tea and porcelains.
This canvas clearly reflects the era of European Imperialism. Europe appears as extremely well dressed, with a building on the one hand representing the power of the Church and fruit on the other, symbolising wealth and prosperity.
With a yellowish skin tone, Asia seems to be carrying pearls, gold and its mystical scents represented by incense.
The woman representing the Americas appears with feathers from exotic birds on her head and with a quiver full of arrows like an Amazon.
With a darker skin, Africa appears with a turban shaped as an elephant head, a scorpion on the left hand and an arrow coming from behind.
All of them are bringing their wealth to Europe…