Allegory of Virtue (Correggio)

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Allegory of Virtues
Correggio - Allegory of Virtues - WGA05338.jpg
Yearbetween 1525 and 1530
MediumTempera on canvas
Dimensions148 cm × 88 cm (58 in × 35 in)
LocationLouvre, Paris

The Allegory of Virtue is an oil on canvas painting by Correggio dating to around 1531 and measuring 149 by 88 cm.[1] It and Allegory of Vice were painted as a pair for the studiolo of Isabella d'Este, with Vice probably the second of the two to be completed. This hypothesis is since only one (possibly non-autograph) sketch survives for Vice, unlike Virtue, for which two preparatory studies survive (in the Louvre), along with a near-complete oil sketch (attributed to Correggio in the 1603 inventory of the Aldobrandini collection and now at the Galleria Doria Pamphili) - this suggests Correggio had become more proficient after the difficult gestation of Virtue.[2]

As usually interpreted, the central woman is Minerva, holding a read lance and a plumed helmet - the work may even be a continuation of Mantegna's Triumph of the Virtues, painted for the same studiolo and also featuring a Minerva with a red lance. (Others have interpreted the figure as Isabella herself, dressed as Wisdom.) Glory hovers above her holding a crown, whilst a seated female figure to the right is surrounded by symbols of the four cardinal virtues (a snake in her hair for Prudence, a sword for Justice, reins for temperance and Hercules's lion skin for Fortitude). Some interpret the seated black female figure on the right as Astrology, Science or Intellectual Virtue - she points outside the painting's space and thus (like the putto in Vice) draws the viewer's attention from one painting to the other.

After the studiolo's contents was dispersed, Virtue and the Mantegna were given to cardinal Richelieu around 1627 and moved to Paris. There they were acquired by Eberhard Jabach in 1671, before being sold by him to Louis XIV - Virtue still hangs in the Louvre.[3][4]


  1. ^ (in Italian) Giuseppe Adani, Correggio pittore universale, Silvana Editoriale, Correggio 2007. ISBN 9788836609772
  2. ^ (in Italian) Mauro Lucco (ed), Mantegna a Mantova 1460-1506, exhibition catalogue, Skira Milano, 2006
  3. ^ "Site officiel du musée du Louvre". Retrieved 17 September 2017.
  4. ^ srl, Netribe. "Giulio Sanuto, Apollo e Marsia, 1562 - Correggio ART HOME". Retrieved 17 September 2017.