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(Italian, 15th century)
Engraving, hand-colored with gold
Dudley P. Allen Fund 1924.432.36
Catalogue raisonné: Hind E.I. 36a
This engraving is part of the group marked with the letter “B,” and named Cosmic Principles and the Virtues, which comprises the three Universal principles (Light, Time, and Space) alongside the three theological virtues (Faith, Hope, and Charity) and the four cardinal ones (Prudence, Temperance, Fortitude, and Justice). The latter were regarded as the basic Christian principles required for a virtuous life.
Here, Forteza (Fortitude) is represented as a full-length female figure in profile, wearing a lion’s skin on her head and a lion armor. She holds a broken column with her left hand. This gesture alludes to the biblical figure of Samson, who toppled a building, killed his captors, and ultimately himself. Fortitude as a personification of strength is flanked by a lion, her symbol that appears behind her.
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