Augustin Terwesten, Allegories of the Four Parts of the World

Four large-format paintings are on display in the grand staircase of the Old Palace of Charlottenburg Palace, which show us allegories of the continents of Europe, Asia, Africa and America. These continents are personified as women and surrounded with further figures, plants and animals and typical attributes. Augustin Terwesten (1649-1711), a court painter for Elector Frederick III of Brandenburg, created the four paintings in 1694. However, the painter characterized the continents very broadly, concentrating on simple statements. “Europe” is portrayed in exaggeration for her achievements in the arts and sciences.  “Asia” (here meaning the Persian Empire) appears as a significant trading partner of Europe. The continents of America and Africa are shown as being “wild” or “enslaved” providers of raw materials.  The Brandenburg Electorate stands here as representative for Europe in general, which exploited the resources of Africa and America for its own purposes.


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