top of page

Four Continents - Europe

Italian, ca. 1853
Original location: Around the center marble fountain
Location of original statue: storage

Statues of the four seasons have long been popular subject matter for gardens. Far less common are statues of the four continents. Beginning in eighteenth century the four continents theme was found in paintings. In 1674 twenty four statues were commissioned by Parterre d’Eau for the gardens of Versailles of which the four continents were part of the commissioned. The statues, still remaining at Versailles were designed by Charles LeBrun (1619-1690) [Hedin]. The Belmont statues are not copies of these Versailles statues but are based on another set of four continents at Versailles that were original sculptured as busts or herms (pedestal, or four sided shaft tapering inward from the top to the bottom holding a bust) for gardens. Africa and America are today are in the amphitheater facing the Grand Canal. It is unclear if they were part of the 1674 commission or a latter commission. At some unknown time the busts were conceived as full figure statues which have been copied in the nineteenth century.

All of the characteristics of both set of statues correspond to the representation of the four continents in the 1758-60 edition of Ceasare Ripa’s emblem book Iconologia.

Belmont’s statues are identical to the statues of the four continents that are in Godinton Park, Kent, England. Identical statues (Italian, ca. 1851) were also found at Rosedown Plantation in St. Francisville, Louisiana twenty three miles from Adelicia’s home Angola. Another set of these statues [not on display] are in the collection of Tryon Palace in North Carolina and are dated late 18th century. These statues were purchase from an unnamed private estate in England at Stratford-on-Avon.

bottom of page