Title: Faith, plate 1 from the Seven Virtues
Engraving on ivory laid paper
Dimensions: plate: 6 x 4 in.; 15.24 x 10.16 cm; sheet: 6.6 x 4.4 in.; 16.764 x 11.176 cm
Gift of Margaret and Frank Robinson in honor of Genevieve M. Tucker
Object Number: 2000.154.003
The nude female form was widely used for personifying abstract concepts during the Renaissance. This is partly because, as scholars revived the texts of Plato, nudity came to symbolize honesty, the true essence of a thing as opposed to its changeable variations. This carried into the Renaissance in depictions like the Nuda veritas, the naked truth that the ancient Roman poet Horace envisioned and painters like Botticelli depicted.
This series engraved by Jacob Matham after drawings by his stepfather and teacher, the renowned Haarlem artist Hendrick Goltzius, is one example of the many prints presenting the virtues as nude or partially nude women. The figure of Justice, for example, is shown as a beautiful bare-breasted woman in illustration of the beauty and nobility of the concept she represents. Likewise Hope, with her anchor, and Fortitude with her characteristic column showing strength and resoluteness. Interestingly, Goltzius clothes Faith, Prudence, and Temperance more conservatively. (“Undressed: The Nude in Context, 1500-1750,” text by Andrew C. Weislogel and presented at the Johnson Museum February 9-June 16, 2019)
NOTE: This electronic record is compiled from historic documentation which may not reflect the Johnson Museum's complete or current knowledge of the object. Review and refinement of such records is ongoing.