known as Correggio
Allegory of Virtue
149.5 x 85.5 cm; tempera on canvas (FC 265)
Modern critics have expressed scepticism about this superb example from the protagonist of Parma’s Renaissance art. It is not clear where this painting stands in relation to the one hanging in the Louvre, which together with the Allegory of Vices, once hung in the celebrated studio of Isabella d’Este. Technical examinations lead us to believe that the Doria painting was the first to be started, but then, for reasons unknown, was left incomplete. A third version, painted on wood in the National Gallery in Edinburgh, is of lesser quality. In comparison with other tempera on canvas works of the time, the Doria piece has a smoother surface, achieved through a thicker, more fragile preparation of the support medium, which was better for laying the tonal layers and soft washes that Correggio used. This piece was ostensibly the inspiration for the sculpture the Truth unveiled by Time (Borghese Gallery, Rome), and was mentioned in 1603 in the Aldobrandini records as a “group of various women…”.