BARBARI, Jacopo de'
(b. ca. 1445, Venezia, d. 1516, Bruxelles)

Allegory (verso of the Portrait of a Man)

Oil on poplar panel, 61 x 46 cm
Staatliche Museen, Berlin

The reverse side of the Portrait of a Man is painted by the same artist, it represents an allegory. Two figures stand in the centre of an unfurnished interior, nude except for wispy, transparent veils. Traditionally, they are interpreted as lovers. The painting combines an allegorical scene containing vanitas features with an exquisite still-life in the foreground, an allusion to the creative power of painting.

The erotic connotation evokes depictions of Adam and Eve at the moment of the Fall as well as the theme of Death and Maiden, which became better known in the 1520s through Hans Baldung Grien.