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Maerten de Vos (1532–1603)

The Tribunal of the Brabant Mint in Antwerp

Restored by Jill and Ellen Keppens


This masterpiece was recently stripped of its yellowed varnish and earlier retouching. De Vos was a sixteenth-century precursor of the Baroque. He painted this justice scene in 1594 for the tribunal of the Brabant Mint, to remind judges, plaintiffs and defendants alike of their duties and responsibilities.

The female personification of Justice appears in the middle, holding the weighing scale and sword with which she triumphs over deceit and violence. On the left we see Moses with the stone tablets, together with Emperor Justinian, who was responsible for codifying Roman law. Numa Pompilius, the legendary second king of Rome, is shown on the right. He was said to have been the source of sacred laws communicated by his consort, the nymph Egeria. The Roman scholar Pliny the Elder appears on the far right, his hand resting on the scholarly works of which he was the author. The commissioners of the painting, governors of the Brabant Mint, are shown at the top.

Maerten de Vos (1532–1603), The Tribunal of the Brabant Mint in Antwerp

oil on wood, Rockoxhuis, inv. 77.4