The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
An Allegory of Love
  • Master of Santo Spirito (active between: Late 15th century - Early 16th century)
  • An Allegory of Love
  • Italy
  • c. 1490 - 1495
  • Painting
  • Oil on pearwood panel
  • Image size: 61.9 x 77.5 cm
  • P556
  • Sixteenth Century Gallery
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • This complex allegorical subject shows a chariot, symbolic of the human soul, being driven by Venus (spiritual love or the intellect), while the bound figure of Cupid represents earthly love. Venus purifies earthly love in the fire of celestial love, and sits ready to complete the purification with a cleansing vessel in her lap. The urn on which she sits contains and thus controls the passions and the vices, while the soul’s baser animal instincts, represented by the rearing horses, are kept in check by her servants. The present work has been linked to a panel depicting an interior with a stabbed woman on the left and a landscape on the right (now cut; formerly Rome, Fabbri collection) and another showing the Rape of Lucretia (Castiglioni sale, Vienna, 28-9 November 1930). They may have originally formed part of a painted wooden chest, or were perhaps inserted into a wainscot.