Europa by Francesc Bover

  • Description

  • Work's History

The figure of Europe in the courtyard of the Llotja is the work of Francesc Bover. It is a woman who has at her feet a pontifical tiara – a tall mitre surrounded by three crowns – alluding to the authority of the Church. On her head she wears the royal crown, which refers to Europe’s dominion over the rest of the world; and in her left hand she holds a book, a symbol of knowledge, on the spine of which rests an owl, a bird consecrated in Ancient Greece to Athena, the goddess of wisdom and precursor of the Roman Minerva.

In the principal treatises on iconography, Europe is presented just as Francesc Bover portrays her: a woman sumptuously dressed thanks to the great wealth of the continent, wearing on her head a crown with cornucopias teeming with all manner of fruits and cereals, and holding in one hand a book with an owl on top. Often, in addition, she holds in the other hand objects such as musical instruments, a set-square, a chisel or a painter’s palette, which display, according to the interpretation of the time, the superiority of this continent over the other parts of the world, both in arms and tools and in letters and the arts.

«The owl on the book [...] shows its perpetual and constant superiority over the rest of the world, in arms, humanities and liberal arts.»

In the four corners of the courtyard of the Llotja there are niches with statues representing Europe, Asia, Africa and America. Pere Pau Muntanya’s iconographic project for the Llotja could not be without the allegories of the continents. This was a recurrent theme in Spanish art of the second half of the 18th century, which must be interpreted as a manifestation of the political power the Spanish monarchs wielded over parts of these territories. The symbolism and attributes with which Francesc Bover and Manuel Oliver represented the four continents denote an ethnocentric vision of the world, a vision that proclaims Europe’s superiority in all respects over Africa and America, but with more nuances in relation with Asia. The figure representing Europe is the work of Francesc Bover.


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Author's works
at the Llotja de Mar