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Seattle Art Museum (SAM)


Photo: Susan A. Cole


ca. 1572

Stradanus (Jan van der Straet)

Flemish, active Italy, 1523-1605

This mystifying allegory, in which virtues are represented by goddesses surrounded by symbols and animals, was painted for a sophisticated, learned patron who would have enjoyed the complex and unorthodox symbolism.

The central figure, carrying a scale and sword, personifies Justice, although the ermine at her feet and her white dress are associated with Chastity. The seated woman at left wears the helmet and armor of Fortitude, but the scepter and globe suggest Philosophy, while the bridle in her left hand belongs to Temperance. At right, the palm and crown of laurel leaves are associated with Fame or Victory; the pelican piercing her breast correlates to Charity, and the sphinx trod under-foot signals the triumph of Chastity over Lust.

Oil on wood
21 5/16 x 17 1/16in. (54.1 x 43.3cm)
Frame: 29 1/2 x 25 1/2in. (74.9 x 64.8cm)
Gift of Dr. Henry M. Richards
Provenance: Walter Zeckendorf, (New York, NY?); Dr. Henry M. Richards, Seattle, Washington by 1943; on loan to Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, Washington 1943-2006, accessioned 2006
Photo: Susan A. Cole
Now on view at the Seattle Art Museum


Published ReferencesBaroni, Allessandra and Manfried Sellink. Stradanus 1523 - 1605: Court Artist of the Medici. Belgium: Brepols Publishers, 2012, pp. 88, 191, reproduced fig. 31.

Ishikawa, Chiyo. "Seattle Art Museum." In Italian Treasures in the U.S.: An Itinerary of Art. Edited by Renato Miracco. Rome: Gangemi Editore International Publishing, 2015, p. 200.

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