Mario Negri

Stele delle amazzoni (1962, bronze)
Zwijsen Building

Mario Negri - Stele delle amazzoni (1962, brons)

The Italian sculptor Mario Negri (1916-1987) made this bronze monument to the amazons that was offered by the Tilburg Municiple council to the then Katholieke Economische Hogeschool in 1962. The occasion was the opening of the new main building (Cobbenhagen Building).

The subject is the female horseback riders of Greek mythology who were known for their martial prowess. If you look closely, you will see that the women in Negri's sculpture are missing a breast. The story has it that their right breast was amputated so that they could perform archery unimpeded by their femininity. Possibly, the name of this female warrior people has to do with the Greek a-mazos, which means "without a breast." Whether these amazons actually went through life that way is rather questionable considering that such a female statue does not actually appear in classical Greek sculpture.

The existence of warlike female warriors—with two breasts—seems more certain, judging from several stories that speak of amazons in the vicinity of Troy, Thrace (the border area of Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria) but also in more distant areas such as Eurasia. This is how the amazons became legendary, even though they were atypical in the worldview of the ancient Greeks (and later the Romans), where women played a role subordinate to men.

Perhaps—who knows—the gift of the sculpture by the Municipality was an encouragement to the university to make the role of women more balanced. That this does not happen automatically may be evident from the fact that the sculpture has been moved several times, from the entrance of building B (Koopmans Building) to the terrace of the Mensa to its current location: the courtyard between the Mensa and Zwijsen Building.

More about history and academic heritage

The Tilburg University academic heritage is a very diverse set of archives, visual materials, collections, devices, recorded stories, et cetera that relate to the history of the university.