A more than 2 meters high statue of an eagle has been in restoration for many years. The statue was first completely restored in the 1970's after it was broken in two parts during building works. It was badly damaged again over 10 years ago. But now the eagle is back in good shape and placed at a wonderful location near the pond in the garden of the Peace Palace. But what's exactly the story behind this fierce looking animal?
Ceramist and sculptor Mr. Willem Coenraad Brouwer from Delft was a specialist in pottery and small animal figures but started experimenting with larger statues at the beginning of the 20th century. Mr. Brouwer developed a terracotta product which was perfect for the decoration of monumental buildings and capable of enduring all sorts of weather conditions. One of his first assignments was given by J.A.G. van der Steur, the Dutch architect of the Peace Palace, to decorate the court yard of the Peace Palace. But to be 100 percent sure that the terracotta would endure frost, Mr. Van der Steur asked Mr. Brouwer to first produce one larger statue that would later be used as part of the decoration.
After almost a year, the eagle had passed the weather test and mr. Brouwer was given the important assignment to produce several decorative terracotta elements in the court yard of the Peace Palace. The area was adorned with all kinds of bird figures such as turkeys, doves and peacocks. Mr. Brouwer also produced a larger plaque with an elephant, a cow, a buffalo, a kangaroo and a camel representing the five continents of the world, very appropriate for the Peace Palace as an international building.
However, the eagle was never used as a decorative element in the courtyard but it was placed in the garden as a stand-alone statue. The artist also mentions the eagle in his personal memoires, saying that the eagle as a statue is located in the garden of The Peace Palace “as a courtesy to the United States of America”, but as we know from our archives this was not the original function of the eagle. But nonetheless, the eagle is proudly standing in its best shape in a beautiful spot in the garden.
By Ms. Jacobine Wieringa - Peace Palace Art Historian