Thomas Quellinus

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Statue of Ceres in the Summer Garden, Saint Petersburg Ceres-Summer Garden-Saint Petersburg.jpg
Statue of Ceres in the Summer Garden, Saint Petersburg

Thomas Quellinus (March 1661 – September 1709), also known, especially in Denmark, as Thomas Qvellinus, was a Flemish baroque sculptor. He was born in Antwerp but worked mainly in Copenhagen, Denmark. He is especially known for the production of grandiose and sumptuous memorial chapels, sepulchral monuments and epitaphs, which can be found in churches throughout Denmark and northern Germany’s Schleswig-Holstein area. His chapels and monuments are dramatically composed, executed in rare, differently coloured types of marble and framed by monumental architectural components.

Denmark constitutional monarchy in Europe

Denmark, officially the Kingdom of Denmark, is a Nordic country and the southernmost of the Scandinavian nations. Denmark lies southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and is bordered to the south by Germany. The Kingdom of Denmark also comprises two autonomous constituent countries in the North Atlantic Ocean: the Faroe Islands and Greenland. Denmark proper consists of a peninsula, Jutland, and an archipelago of 443 named islands, with the largest being Zealand, Funen and the North Jutlandic Island. The islands are characterised by flat, arable land and sandy coasts, low elevation and a temperate climate. Denmark has a total area of 42,924 km2 (16,573 sq mi), land area of 42,394 km2 (16,368 sq mi), and the total area including Greenland and the Faroe Islands is 2,210,579 km2 (853,509 sq mi), and a population of 5.8 million.

Flanders Community and region of Belgium

Flanders is the Dutch-speaking northern portion of Belgium and one of the communities, regions and language areas of Belgium. However, there are several overlapping definitions, including ones related to culture, language, politics and history, and sometimes involving neighbouring countries. The demonym associated with Flanders is Fleming, while the corresponding adjective is Flemish. The official capital of Flanders is Brussels, although the Brussels Capital Region has an independent regional government, and the government of Flanders only oversees the community aspects of Flanders life in Brussels such as (Flemish) culture and education.

Baroque cultural movement, starting around 1600

The Baroque is a highly ornate and often extravagant style of architecture, music, painting, sculpture and other arts that flourished in Europe from the early 17th until the mid-18th century. It followed the Renaissance style and preceded the Rococo and Neoclassical styles. It was encouraged by the Catholic Church as a means to counter the simplicity and austerity of Protestant architecture, art and music, though Lutheran Baroque art developed in parts of Europe as well. The Baroque style used contrast, movement, exuberant detail, deep colour, grandeur and surprise to achieve a sense of awe. The style began at the start of the 17th century in Rome, then spread rapidly to France, northern Italy, Spain and Portugal, then to Austria and southern Germany. By the 1730s, it had evolved into an even more flamboyant style, called rocaille or Rococo, which appeared in France and central Europe until the mid to late 18th century.

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He was a member of the well-known Quellinus family of artists from 17th century Antwerp, major center of artistic life then known as "the Florence of the North".

Antwerp Municipality in Flemish Community, Belgium

Antwerp is a city in Belgium, and is the capital of Antwerp province in Flanders. With a population of 520,504, it is the most populous city proper in Belgium, and with 1,200,000 the second largest metropolitan region after Brussels.

Early life and training

Thomas Quellinus was born in Antwerp to the leading Baroque sculptor Artus Quellinus II and Anna Maria Gabron, and was baptised on 17 March 1661. He trained in his father’s workshop in the art of sculpture. After completing his apprenticeship with his father, he went to London, England, where he worked with his brother Artus Quellinus III. While in England he married Anna Maria Cocques (Cooques). He remained there until at least January 1688.

Artus Quellinus II Flemish sculptor

Artus Quellinus II or Artus Quellinus the Younger was a Flemish sculptor who played an important role in the evolution of Northern-European sculpture from High Baroque to Late Baroque.

London Capital of the United Kingdom

London is the capital and largest city of the United Kingdom. Standing on the River Thames in the south-east of England, at the head of its 50-mile (80 km) estuary leading to the North Sea, London has been a major settlement for two millennia. Londinium was founded by the Romans. The City of London, London's ancient core − an area of just 1.12 square miles (2.9 km2) and colloquially known as the Square Mile − retains boundaries that follow closely its medieval limits. The City of Westminster is also an Inner London borough holding city status. Greater London is governed by the Mayor of London and the London Assembly.

England Country in north-west Europe, part of the United Kingdom

England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to the west and Scotland to the north-northwest. The Irish Sea lies west of England and the Celtic Sea lies to the southwest. England is separated from continental Europe by the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south. The country covers five-eighths of the island of Great Britain, which lies in the North Atlantic, and includes over 100 smaller islands, such as the Isles of Scilly and the Isle of Wight.

Career in northern Europe

The Marselis epitaph in Aarhus Cathedral Marselis epitaph.jpg
The Marselis epitaph in Aarhus Cathedral

He was already a respected artist when he came to Denmark at the end of the 1680s to oversee the numerous Scandinavian commissions of his father’s workshop. He arrived in 1689 and supervised the work on the tomb designed by his father for Field Marshal Hans Schack (1609–76) in Trinity Church (Trinitatiskirke), Copenhagen.

Tomb burial place

A tomb is a repository for the remains of the dead. It is generally any structurally enclosed interment space or burial chamber, of varying sizes.

Hans Schack Danish military leader

Hans Schack,, was a member of the north German noble family Schack, who after many years in French service, entered the Danish service, made major contributions during the war with Sweden, and loyally supported Frederick III when he overthrew the Danish constitution. He became a Danish field-marshal, commander-in-chief of the Danish army, member of the Board of State, and of the Danish Privy Council, and made a Danish count.

Copenhagen Capital of Denmark

Copenhagen is the capital and most populous city of Denmark. As of July 2018, the city has a population of 777,218. It forms the core of the wider urban area of Copenhagen and the Copenhagen metropolitan area. Copenhagen is situated on the eastern coast of the island of Zealand; another small portion of the city is located on Amager, and is separated from Malmö, Sweden, by the strait of Øresund. The Øresund Bridge connects the two cities by rail and road.

In a short time he gained a considerable independent reputation as a sculptor in Northern Europe. The commission to create the Ulrik Frederik Gyldenløve monument in Our Lady Church ( Vor Frue Kirke ), Copenhagen in August 1689 was the catalyst for his extended stay and successful career in Denmark.

Northern Europe northern region of the European continent

Northern Europe is the general term for the geographical region in Europe that is approximately north of the southern coast of the Baltic Sea. Nations usually included within this region are Denmark, Estonia, the Faroe Islands, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway and Sweden, and less often the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, northern Germany, northern Belarus and northwest Russia.

Church of Our Lady (Copenhagen) Church in Copenhagen, Denmark

The Church of Our Lady is the cathedral of Copenhagen. It is situated on Frue Plads public square in central Copenhagen, next to the main building of the University of Copenhagen.

Due to the volume and scope of work he produced, he opened in 1689 a workshop in Lübeck, which specialized in funerary monuments for Danish and north German patrons. In his workshop he had many students, apprentices and helpers, mainly sculptors from Flanders; among them Just Wiedewelt (father of sculptor Johannes Wiedewelt, Abraham Breusegem Emanuel Cuekelaere, and probably Andreas Gercken. In order to simplify production he was known to have imported some partially carved pieces, especially architectural pieces, from the Southern Netherlands.

Lübeck Place in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany

Lübeck is a city in Schleswig-Holstein, northern Germany, and one of the major ports of Germany. On the river Trave, it was the leading city of the Hanseatic League, and because of its extensive Brick Gothic architecture, it is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. In 2015, it had a population of 218,523.

Johannes Wiedewelt Danish sculptor

Johannes Wiedewelt, Danish neoclassical sculptor, was born in Copenhagen to royal sculptor to the Danish Court, Just Wiedewelt, and his wife Birgitte Lauridsdatter. Following in his father's footsteps, he too became a royal sculptor introducing neoclassical ideals to Denmark in the form of palace decorations, garden sculptures and artifacts and, especially, memorial monuments. He was undoubtedly the best known Danish sculptor before Bertel Thorvaldsen.

Although he was very successful with private commissions, not much of his work came from the royal court. And although he was arguably the country’s leading sculptor, he was never named sculptor to the royal court. Up until 1697 he lived in Aabenraa, and then he acquired residential property on Norgesgade, now known as Bredgade, in Copenhagen.

His assistants Breusegem and Cuekelaere executed the sculptures for the altar at Our Saviour’s Church (Vor Frelsers Kirke), Copenhagen according to Quellinus’s sketch in 1697.

On 6 October 1701 Quellinus was one of a group of respected artists to send a petition to King Frederick IV requesting approval for the formation of an artist society and teaching academy. The others were Hendrick Krock, Wilchen Riboldt, Jacob Coning, Otto de Willarts, and Georg Saleman — all artists in the service of the court. This was the humble beginning to the formation of the Royal Danish Academy of Art (Det Kongelige Danske Kunstakademi) many years later.

After 1701 he regularly visited Antwerp, and was in the Southern Netherlands in 1704. He received citizenship in Copenhagen as a sculptor on 12 December 1703, along with royal permission to run a commercial enterprise selling lace from Brabant.

He returned permanently to Antwerp in 1707, and became a master in the city’s Guild of St Luke.

He died in Antwerp and was buried on 7 September 1709. His widow, Anna Marie, survived him, and it is believed that she continued his workshop’s production for some years with a couple of assistants. She also continued until 1711 the commercial enterprise selling lace.

Aftermath

Much of his work has not survived or has been partially destroyed by either fire, war or the general ravages of time. This includes the Schack tomb at Trinity Church, which originally brought Quellinus to Denmark, which was already partially destroyed in the Copenhagen Fire of 1728.

His almost seventeen years in Denmark had a significant impact on the development of Danish sculpture, and especially memorial sculpture. Many of the next generation’s best sculptors were his students.

Other works

Crucifixion (fragment) of the High Altar of St. Mary's Church, Lubeck Fredenhagenaltar Kruzifix.JPG
Crucifixion (fragment) of the High Altar of St. Mary's Church, Lübeck

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