The Seven Wonders of the World
Bernard Rantwyck (Flanders, active c. 1573 - 1596)
Little is known about Bernard Rantwyck, the author of the series of the Seven Wonders of the World, except that he was born in Nijmegen, on an unknown date, and moved to Italy between the late 16th and early 17th century. In the last three decades of the 16th century he was particularly active in Siena where he worked for the Chigi and Piccolomini families, but he was also documented in Rome in 1596.
The inscription on the façade of the Door of Semiramis, represented in the painting of the Walls of Babylon, dates the tablets back to 1611. The Medici family probably commissioned the series to the painter.
These paintings are a pictorial transposition of the Maarten Van Heemskerck’s designs for the engravings by Philip Galle in 1572, which had enormous impact as the first figurative translation of this ancient literary subject. The latin verses at the bottom of the engravings were composed by the humanist scholar, Hadrianus Junius. In 1572 he published the Epigrams of Martial, in which he mentioned an eighth wonder, the Coliseum, that is found in both series, while The Lighthouse of Alexandria is only found in the engraving series. Rantwyck mainly follows the prototypes, however he changes certain aspects to render the fantasy-like atmosphere. He arranges the seven monuments in prominent positions within the general organization of the paintings. Moreover he adds episodes from the history of the monuments themselves through the presence of main characters, ‘macchiette’ (figurines) and an enchanting landscape.
The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus Inv. 1890 n. 5974
The Walls of Babylon Inv. 1890 n. 5973
The Coliseum Inv. 1890 n. 8085
The Temple of Arthemis at Ephesus Inv. 1890 n. 5546
The Pyramids in Egypt Inv. 1890 n. 5547
The Colossus of Rhodes Inv. 1890 n. 5975
The Statue of Zeus at Olympia Inv. 1890 n. 8084