Allegory of Virtue

Allegory of Virtue

Title

Allegory of Virtue

[cda 2013]

Painting on poplar wood (Populus sp.)

Medium

Painting on poplar wood (Populus sp.)

[Klein, Report 2013]
[Kunsthistorisches Museum, revised 2013]

An allegorical depiction showing the personification of Virtue standing on a rocky mountain. The inscription makes the viewer aware of how difficult the mountain of Virtue is for man to climb. The representation of a town in the background and the chamois on the rocky slope lend the landscape a

An allegorical depiction showing the personification of Virtue standing on a rocky mountain. The inscription makes the viewer aware of how difficult the mountain of Virtue is for man to climb. The representation of a town in the background and the chamois on the rocky slope lend the landscape a naturalistic character.

[Hoppe-Harnoncourt/Tüchler, Kunsthistorisches Museum 2013]

[Translation, Smith, cda 2014]

Attributions
Lucas Cranach the Younger
Lucas Cranach the Elder

Attributions

Lucas Cranach the Younger

[Cat. Vienna 1928]

Lucas Cranach the Elder

[Letter by Werner Schade, according to Koepplin 2006, 140]

Workshop Lucas Cranach the Elder

"Werkstatt der Cranachs" [Glück 1910, 221]

Production date
1548

Production date

1548

[dated]

Dimensions
Dimensions of support: 32.3 x 21.7/21.8 (top/bottom) cm (without addition)

Dimensions

  • Dimensions of support: 32.3 x 21.7/21.8 (top/bottom) cm (without addition)

  • Dimensions of support: 33.7/33.6 (left/right) x 23/23.1 (top/bottom) cm (with addition)

  • Dimensions including frame: 50.1 x 39.5 x 4.5 cm

  • [Kunsthistorisches Museum, revised 2013]

Signature / Dating
Artist's insignia in the bottom right corner: winged serpent with dropped wings, facing left; in black paint

Signature / Dating

  • Artist's insignia in the bottom right corner: winged serpent with dropped wings, facing left; in black paint

  • [Kunsthistorisches Museum, revised 2013]

Inscriptions and Labels
- around the palm tree: banderole with the inscription: 'DEO ET VIRTVTE' - next to the female figure: 'VIRTVS' - on the rocky …

Inscriptions and Labels

Inscriptions, Badges:

  • - around the palm tree: banderole with the inscription: 'DEO ET VIRTVTE'
  • - next to the female figure:
  • 'VIRTVS'
  • - on the rocky entrance:
  • 'DVRATE'
  • - on the inscription plate:
  • 'VIA ARDVA
  • EST SED MA
  • NET IN ACVMI
  • NE IN EXTIMA
  • BILE PRAEMIVM
  • 1548'
  • [http://bilddatenbank.khm.at/viewArtefact?id=548; accessed 01/14/2014]

Stamps, Seals, Labels:

  • Reverse of the panel, blind frame:
  • - top frame member: in ink: 'rss/ess'
  • - left frame member:
  • in dark pen: '6569/177'
  • - frame cross-member:
  • red paint on black: 'Luca Kranich 1548'
  • - bottom frame member:
  • stamp: 'GJ 1949'
  • - bottom frame member, right:
  • Inventory label: 'Gemälde Galerie des Allerh. Kaiserhauses, No 6080'
  • Reverse of the panel, on the light ground:
  • - top:
  • paper label, handwritten in dark ink: 'N. Inv. No. 64 [underlined], Alte Meister
  • O.K. A. Z: 195 ex. 1908
  • Ital. Act. 11'
  • [Kunsthistorisches Museum, revised 2013]
Owner
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna
Repository
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna
Location
Vienna
CDA ID
AT_KHM_GG6080
FR (1978) Nr.
FR-none
Persistent Link
https://lucascranach.org/en/AT_KHM_GG6080/

Provenance

  • acquired 1908, formerly in the Kininger Collection, Hungary

[Baldass 1931, 13]

Exhibitions

Vienna 1972, No. 26

Literature

Reference on page Catalogue Number Figure / Plate
Hoppe-Harnoncourt 2015 156, 162-165 Fig. 6
AuthorAlice Hoppe-Harnoncourt
TitleLucas Cranach der Jüngere? Überlegungen zu zwei datierten Werken aus dem Kunsthistorischen Museum in Wien
Publicationin Elke A. Werner, Anne Eusterschulte, Gunnar Heydenreich, eds., Lucas Cranach der Jüngere und die Reformation der Bilder
Place of PublicationMunich
Year of Publication2015
Pages154-167
Werner 2015 13
AuthorElke Anna Werner
TitleLucas Cranach der Jüngere und die Reformation der Bilder. Zur Einführung
Publicationin Elke A. Werner, Anne Eusterschulte, Gunnar Heydenreich, eds., Lucas Cranach der Jüngere und die Reformation der Bilder
Place of PublicationMunich
Year of Publication2015
Pages8-16
Koepplin 2006 139-141 1
AuthorDieter Koepplin
TitleWie erklärt sich eine von Cranach gemalte Maria-Ekklesia 'in der Sonne' aus der Situation um 1550?
Publicationin Irene Dingel, Günther Wartenberg, eds., Politik und Bekenntnis. Die Reaktionen auf das Interim von 1548
Place of PublicationLeipzig
Year of Publication2006
Pages139-176
Urbach 1997 88 18
AuthorZsuzsa Urbach
TitleMarginális megjegyzések MS mester müvészetéhez (Marginal remarks on the art of Master MS)
Publicationin Árpád Mikó, ed., "Magnificat anima mea Dominum". MS Mester Vizitáció-Képe és egykori selmecbányai fooltára ; the visitation by master MS and his former high altar Selmecbánya [Magyar Nemzeti Galéria, Bupdapest, 14.03-25.05.1997]
Place of PublicationBudapest
Year of Publication1997
Pages77-97, 98-100
Koerner 1993 386 182
AuthorJoseph Leo Koerner
TitleThe moment of self-portraiture in German Renaissance art
Place of PublicationChicago
Year of Publication1993
Cat. Vienna 1991 47 pl. 598
AuthorWolfgang von Prohaska, Sylvia Ferino-Pagden
EditorKarl Schütz
TitleDie Gemäldegalerie des Kunsthistorischen Museums in Wien. Verzeichnis der Gemälde
SeriesFührer durch das Kunsthistorische Museum
Volume40
Place of PublicationVienna
Year of Publication1991
Dülberg 1990 300 M 350
AuthorAngelica Dülberg
TitlePrivatporträts. Geschichte und Ikonologie einer Gattung im 15. und 16. Jahrhundert
Place of PublicationBerlin
Year of Publication1990
Exhib. Cat. Basel 1974/1976 627
AuthorDieter Koepplin, Tilman Falk
TitleLukas Cranach. Gemälde, Zeichnungen und Druckgraphik
Volume1, 2
Place of PublicationBasel, Stuttgart
Year of Publication1974
Link http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:bsz:16-diglit-104522
Schade 1974 91 Pl. 222
AuthorWerner Schade
TitleDie Malerfamilie Cranach
Place of PublicationDresden
Year of Publication1974
Link http://digi.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/diglit/schade1974
Cat. Vienna 1973 51
EditorKlaus Demus
TitleVerzeichnis der Gemälde
SeriesFührer durch das Kunsthistorische Museum
Volume18
Place of PublicationVienna
Year of Publication1973
Exhib. Cat. Vienna 1972 32-33 No. 26 26
AuthorKarl Schütz
EditorKunsthistorisches Museum, Wien
TitleLucas Cranach der Ältere und seine Werkstatt. Jubiläumsausstellung museumseigener Werke 1472-1972
Place of PublicationVienna
Year of Publication1972
Cat. Vienna 1938 43 No. 1468a
Authorn. a.
TitleKunsthistorisches Museum: Katalog der Gemäldegalerie
SeriesFührer durch das Kunsthistorische Museum
Volume8
Place of PublicationVienna
IssueSecond edition
Year of Publication1938
Baldass 1931 13
AuthorLudwig Baldass
TitleGeschichte der Wiener Gemäldegalerie in den Jahren 1911-1931
JournalJahrbuch des Kunsthistorischen Museums
IssueN.F. 4
Year of Publication1931
Pages1-19
Cat. Vienna 1928 59 No. 1468a
Authorn. a.
TitleKunsthistorisches Museum: Katalog der Gemäldegalerie
SeriesFührer durch die Kunsthistorischen Sammlungen in Wien
Volume8
Place of PublicationVienna
Year of Publication1928
Glück 1910 221
AuthorGustav Glück
TitleEin neu gefundenes Jugendwerk Lorenzo Lottos
JournalKunstgeschichtliches Jahrbuch der k. k. Zentral-Kommission für die Erforschung und Erhaltung der Kunst- und Historischen Denkmale
Year of Publication1910
Pages212-227

Research History / Discussion

The small wooden panel was attributed to the Cranach workshop after it was purchased in 1908. The attribution to Lucas Cranach the Younger was made in the 1920s and is still considered valid today. (Glück 1911, 221; Cat. Vienna 1928, 59 No. 1468a)

Gustav Glück suggested that the allegory of Virtue may originally have functioned as a sliding cover for a portrait. (Glück 1911, 221; Dülberg 1990, 300)

The knight on the right in the foreground, interpreted as a representation of Hercules by Karl Schütz (Schütz 1972, Cat. 26), points with his right hand to the personification of Virtue standing on the steep mountain and in his left hand he holds up a shield for the viewer with the motto 'VIA ARDVA EST SED MANET IN ACVMINE IN EXTIMABILE PRAEMIVM […]' (the path is steep, but an invaluable prize awaits at the top). On the mountain there are two religious men on the path that leads to Virtue. They look up from their scripts, and are accompanied by lance-bearers and knights. They must pass through a narrow entrance designated with the inscription 'DVRATE' (persevere). Virtue stands on a rock on the impassable mountain and points to a palm tree on the peak. A banderole is wound with the inscription 'DEO ET VIRTVTE' (God and virtue) is wound around the tree, a chain hangs on the right and a laurel wreath on the left. Virtue's gaze follows a figure falling head over heals (also with a book in his hands), who evidently failed to climb the mountain of virtue's steep path.

The moral of the allegorical depiction was interpreted by Karl Schütz and most recently also by Dieter Koepplin with reference to the religio-political context and the resulting conflicts in the year 1548 (The Augsburg Interim in the Empire and the Leipzig Article in Saxony). (Schütz, Exhib. Cat. Vienna 1972, 33; Koepplin 2006, 139-141)

[Hoppe-Harnoncourt, Kunsthistorisches Museum, November 2013]

[Translation, Smith, cda 2014]

  • Allegory of Virtue, 1548

Images

Compare images
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  • reverse
  • irr
  • x_radiograph
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Technical studies

02.12.2013Scientific analysis

  • Identification of wood species / Dendrochronology

Support

Identification of wood species by Dr. Peter Klein, 02.12.2013: poplar wood (Populus sp.)

  • analysed by Peter Klein

28.08.2013 - 27.05.2013Technologische Untersuchung / Naturwissenschaftliche Materialanalyse

  • X-radiography
  • x_radiograph
  • created by Kunsthistorisches Museum, Wien

27.05.2013Technical examination / Scientific analysis

  • Infrared reflectography
  • irr

DESCRIPTION

Tools/Material:

- probably a dry drawing material, dark chalk, stylus; a fine tipped brush with a fluid medium may have been employed during the second stage

Type/Ductus:

- freehand underdrawing (where visible)

- thin, black lines

Function

- relatively binding for the final painted version; the lines define the main contours; no representation of volume with hatching-strokes

Deviations

- minor corrections were made to forms during the painting process; small changes (e. g. the wreath hanging from the tree was positioned somewhat higher, the chain is round)

INTERPRETATION

Attribution:

- not possible

[Sandner, Smith-Contini, Heydenreich, cda 2016]

  • photographed by Kunsthistorisches Museum, Wien

2013Technical examination / Scientific analysis

  • Infrared reflectography
  • X-radiography
  • Light microscopy
  • Stereomicroscopy

Support

The support consists of a single poplar wood plank with the grain running vertically and is 0.5 cm thick.

The panel is no longer its original size and the surface on the reverse has not been preserved.

Battens attached to all four sides conceal the end-grain edge and make any assertion about the direction of the cut impossible.

Ground and Imprimatura

White ground (the fill material and binding medium was not analysed).

No assertions can be made about the original framing and the characteristics of the edges of the panel as it has been trimmed on all four sides.

Underdrawing

The infrared refectogram did not reveal an underdrawing throughout, however traces were observed in the areas where the painted version deviates from the indicated design. For example the wreath hanging from the tree was positioned slightly higher in the original design and the chain was indicated with rounder forms. In the background landscape the tower on the horizon at the right near the rocky outcrop, was conceived taller than it was realized in the painted version.

The personification of Virtue was outlined with rough contour lines before the painting process began, however these appear thicker and contain more pigments. The contours of the rocky plateaus overgrown with foliage were defined with sweeping brush lines, which are today visible to the naked eye through the sky paint. These, like some of the contours of the rocks, were more generously indicated than when executed in paint (see the area around the inscription VIRTUS).

On the basis of overlapping and areas held in reserve revealed in the infrared reflectogram the sequence of the painting process can in part be reconstructed. The pale underpaint of the sky was applied, holding the area for the tree in reserve. The bristle brush appears to have been used in places with a zig-zag motion over the surface. The reserve provided for a narrower trunk and a smaller crown.

A pentiment can be observed in the positioning of the head of the cleric in the foreground. The IRR reveals that he originally did not raise his head - like the other figures/soldiers in the foreground and a deviating first painted version is visible to the naked eye.

Furthermore the infrared reflectogram shows that the contours of the arms and legs of Hercules, on the right in the foreground, were corrected and made slimmer with the adjoining paint of the landscape after the flesh paint was applied (see left arm, right calf, left foot).

Paint Layers and Gilding

As regards the paint application large forms like the tree at the centre or the figure of Hercules in the foreground were held in reserve when the first paint layer was applied, but the smaller scale soldiers in the foreground were painted over the - in part impasto - paint layers (see entrance arch). The sky was painted before the rocks and the foreground. The foliage of the trees was painted in the wet paint of the sky.

The landscape was painted over a grey underpaint, which held the light areas like the figure of Hercules in reserve, however in places it extended slightly beyond the form (compare IRR).

The small figures in the foreground as well as the architecture were painted in a very calligraphic manner, roofs and windows are defined with minimal linear indication.

In numerous areas the brush was employed sgraffito-like and the wet paint was removed to reveal the dry layer beneath like for example in the area of the armour and the right hand of Hercules where the veins were drawn in the wet paint.

A later correction can be observed in the female figure. Her left shoulder was made slightly broader.

An indication of the pigments employed can be gained on the basis of the absorption of behaviour of the paint layers revealed in the x-radiograph: the underpaint in the sky and the clouds were painted with an admixture of lead white, the same as the river in the background and the base tone for the coat-of-arms at the bottom right, Hercules' armour as well as the robe of the personified Virtue were probably highlighed with lead-tin-yellow, the lances and the impasto foliage in the foreground also show strong x-ray absorption.

Framing

new frame

[Translation, Smith, cda 2014]

  • examined by Ute Tüchler

Condition Reports

Date2013

The condition of the panel can be classified as delicate.

The panel was considerably weakened by extensive woodworm damage in the past. The degree of damage could be establish with the assistance of the x-radiography, which revealed worm channels throughout the entire panel. The panel was thinned and a blind frame made of coniferous wood was glued to the reverse, a ground (probably containing lead white) was applied to the spaces between the vertical members. The date of this intervention was not recorded.

The x-radiograph shows that the worm channels were truncated during the thinning and in part filled with the ground material.

In addition the original size of the panel has not been retained. It was trimmed on all four sides and then extended by adding coniferous wood battens. The 0.6-0.7 cm wide battens were each attached to the blind frame with three nails (at regular intervals), subsequently the blind frame and the battens were chamfered.

There is a wooden insert measuring 5.5 x 0.6 cm at the bottom right edge, which is not original.

This intervention, that was presumably carried out to stabilize the panel, limited its movement and lead to numerous splits in the direction of the grain, some of these have opened on the reverse and exhibit a slight step.

When the panel was trimmed this caused paint loss along all four edges, which has been filled and retouched. The fills exhibit weak bonding in some places. The retouches extend over the varnish, particularly in the sky, and are for the most part discoloured.

The paint layers are abraded along the edges as well as in the area of the rocks (dark glazes), the inscriptions and the clouds.

The green glazes of the leaves and blades of grass have become brown.

The varnish layers have yellowed and have been unevenly applied.

[Tüchler, Kunsthistorisches Museum, revised 2013]

[Translation, Smith, cda 2014]

Citing from the Cranach Digital Archive

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Entry with no author
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