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Art in the meeting rooms

The triptych in the meeting room. Photo credits: Vincent Wiegers
The triptych in the meeting room. Photo credits: Vincent Wiegers

Illustrator Sanne Boekel created a modern translation of Allegory of Good Governance in 2023 for one of the meeting rooms in the faculty's new building. The work was named 'Allegory of Good Governance vol. 2'. Boekel was inspired by the frescoes of Ambrogio Lorenzetti.

The original triptych tells the story of a modern secular society and the challenges it faces. It touches on themes of pluralism and autonomy, outlines a tension between space and freedom and questions how much room there is in society for different forms of being human. It is an optimistic picture that emphasizes the importance of politics and government in society rather than about society. Law is an important pillar in this, regulating the vagaries to which a complex society is subjected.

Boekel's triptych is formed by a center panel and two side panels.The center panel is the et board panel. Here democracy plays a central role. The idea behind the work is that only in harmony can a society form a unity.

The left panel visualizes a city, the right panel the countryside. The dialogue between these two images exposes the dependence that exists between them: the center needs the periphery and vice versa. In images of the city and the countryside, we see references to major challenges of our modern age. In the image, those challenges are/were solved under the influence of Good Government. The virtues, as described by Aristotle, play a major role in this.

Through symbolic references, the sculpture asks questions about the importance we as a society attach to such themes and values as identity, autonomy, freedom, prosperity and democracy. The work emphasizes the need for policy-makers and administrators to keep an eye on society, to look outward and see the direct consequences of decisions made at the administrative level.

As for context to the work: Between 1338 and 1339, the Italian Ambrogio Lorenzetti painted the Allegory of Good and Bad Government for the Palazzo Publico in Siena. The frescoes formed symbolic narratives about the effects that good government had on the city and the countryside. In return, Lorenzetti set an example of the effects of bad government on society. The mural can be read as a manifesto of the city government of the Renaissance city that, with its guild structure and prominent role of the town hall, was progressive in its time.

Lorenzetti based the work on the principles of justice and well-being of Greek philosopher Aristotle. In his Ethica Nicomanchea, Aristotle further deepened the virtues Plato wrote about in Politeia. The virtues that Plato and Aristotle wrote about were later described by the Church as cardinal virtues that are the foundation of a moral life.

Lorenzetti painted a harmonious picture of the city at the Good Administration in which a unified society is characterized by thriving commerce, well-maintained buildings and a structured streetscape. There is harmony and peace. This also affects Lorenzetti's painting of the countryside, which is characterized above all by space, freedom and security. He gave a central role to the importance of good infrastructure and space for farmers. Under the influence of bad government, he mainly sketched a society in which decay plays a role, discord prevails and fighting takes place.

Last modified:14 December 2023 1.28 p.m.
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