Allegory of Virtue

149.5 x 85.5 cm; tempera on canvas (FC 265)

This is a superb work by the leading Renaissance painter in Parma, once housed in Isabella d’Este’s celebrated studiolo in Mantua. Datable to 1525, the Doria Pamphilj painting, for unknown reasons, was left incomplete. In comparison with other tempera on canvas works of the time, this picture has a smoother surface, achieved through a thicker, more fragile preparation of the support, which was better for laying in the shaded colour and soft glazes that Correggio used. It was ostensibly the inspiration for the Bernini sculpture Truth unveiled by Time (Borghese Gallery, Rome), and was mentioned in 1603 in an Aldobrandini inventory as “an assembly of various female figures…”.