“Allegories”, late 18th century

Set of five painted canvases representing allegories of Love, Justice, Reason, Fidelity and Glory, original polychrome carved wooden frames.

The most popular genre of painting in the seventeenth century, the allegory knows a spectacular rise and spreads like wildfire in the cabinets of amateurs, but especially in the great setting that lives its apogee thanks to the innumerable construction sites of palaces and mansions in France. In scholarly circles, it is indeed fashionable to adorn its walls with these visual rebuses, whose elucidation sharpens the sagacity of visitors.

Since ancient times, men have forged symbols in order to master disturbing concepts, such as time, death and earthly forces. This taste for the symbol has generated a lot of codified images, more or less easy to understand. This craze for allegory, that is, a human or animal figure holding attributes evoking a concept or notion, culminates in the Baroque era. The humanists of the seventeenth century see in these talking images the concretization of their ultimate ambition: transcend matter and raise the spirit.

If allegorical painting appears to us today essentially decorative, it was invested under the Old Regime with a profound meaning, because it crystallized the moral principles essential to the elevation of the soul and social organization. Hence the profusion of this painting in the spheres of power, especially royal.

A veritable potpourri of references, the allegorical language mixes without distinction the sources, whether religious, mythological, from popular or proverbial wisdom.


XVIII century

Height: 90 cm

Width:125 cm

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