When you enter the grounds of the Peace Palace don’t forget to look up at the symbolic statues, standing as guards in the niches on the façade of the building. The Dutch architect of the Peace Palace, J.A.G. van der Steur, assigned eleven different artists to design these seventeen decorative statues.
Van der Steur asked sculptors such as Toon Dupuis, Fré Jeltsema, Louis Vreugde, Arend Odé, Pier Pander and Wim Retera to first design a model in plaster. Once this model was accepted a fee of 1500 guilders was given to the artists together with a large piece of Oberkirchner sandstone in order to produce their symbolic statue. Pax is seen prominently above the entrance door and the other sixteen allegorical statues are located in niches below at the front of the palace and all the way around the corner at the left and right. These symolic statues represent personifications of for example Wisdom, Eloquence and Courage but also of Justice, Commerce and Agriculture.
Wim Retera (1858-1930) was assigned to sculpt the most prominent statue placed above the main entrance of the Peace Palace, Pax. This goddess of peace was made of grès, a material that was delivered by the famous Delft factory 'The Porceleyne Fles'. Retera designed a decorative statue of a crowned woman holding a sword in its scabbard (symbol of peace). This historical photo of the plaster model of 'Pax' was made in the work shop of Retera in Amsterdam.
A selection of relevant publications from the Peace Palace Library collection
- Eyffinger, A.C.G.M., The Peace Palace: Residence for Justice, Domicile of Learning, The Hague, Carnegie Foundation, 1988.
- Eyffinger, A.C.G.M., The Trusteeship of an Ideal: The Carnegie Foundation, Vignettes of a Century, Amsterdam, Enschedé, 2004.
- Scherpenhuijzen, J., Het Vredespaleis: korte beschrijving van den bouw van het Vredespaleis en zijn voorgeschiedenis, Den Haag, Vredespaleis, 1945.