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Professor Simon Schama, the famous professor of art history and history, provides an interesting insight into Dutch insolvency law in the seventeenth century and the notion of a ‘curator’ in a composition in one of his earlier books (see: Schama, S. Embarrassment of Riches: An Interpretation of Dutch Culture in the Golden Age. University of California Press, 1988, p.342).
Schama provides a picture and vivid description of the door of the “Desolate Boedels Kamer”; the Bankruptcy Chamber in Amsterdam’s Royal Palace (which was the Town Hall) carved by Artus Quellijn. This “startling” sculptured relief around the door is complete with allegorical carvings of worthless stock, unpaid bills, empty chests, and hungry rats situated around a falling Icarus, “symbolising the reward for high-flying ambition and folly.” (p.343).
Schama observes that the object of bankruptcy was, “less punishment of the delinquent than his or her rehabilitation and the repair of the damage done to the economic balance of the city... a reconciliation between the defaulter and his creditors” (p.344).
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