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Oil on wood
Framed: 87 x 100 x 10.2 cm (34 1/4 x 39 3/8 x 4 in.); Unframed: 68.6 x 54.5 cm (27 x 21 7/16 in.)
Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund 1994.10
Charity is almost always personified as a woman with children.
Abraham Bloemaert drew on traditional depictions of the Virgin and Child for this allegorical image of Charity: a woman surrounded by children, one an infant for whom she has bared her breast. Bloemaert was one of the leading proponents of the Mannerist style in the Northern Netherlands. Characteristics of that style include exaggerated figural proportions, contorted poses, heightened colors, densely packed compositions, and a deliberate eroticism—invoked here to emphasize the magnetic quality of Charity’s serene beauty.
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