Virtue, Love, and Exploration in Renaissance Venice
April 11 through July 16, 2006
Paolo Veronese (c. 1528 - 1588)
The Choice Between Virtue and Vice, c.1565
Oil on canvas
86 1/4 x 66 3/4 in.
(219.08 x 169.55 cm)
Henry Clay Frick Bequest.
Accession number: 1912.1.129
A young man is left to choose between Virtue and Vice. On the left Vice — a sumptuously dressed woman with her back to the viewer — holds a pack of playing cards, indicating the variable fortune and instability of what she stands for. She sits on a marble Sphinx, against which a dagger is positioned; both allude to death. The man, having been attacked by Vice’s sharp claws — his stocking ripped and revealing bleeding flesh — escapes into the protective arms of Virtue. She is more soberly dressed, her face is simple and unadorned, and she is crowned with a laurel wreath. The fragment of a classical female sculpture might suggest the pagan world and its values. The moralizing inscription at the top left adds a comment to the scene: HONOR AND VIRTUE FLOURISH AFTER DEATH. >>