(b. 1445, Firenze, d. 1510, Firenze)

Calumny of Apelles (detail)

Tempera on panel
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence

Rancour, clothed in black, is dragging Calumny forward with his right hand; as a symbol of the lies which she has spread, she is holding a burning torch in her left hand, while she is pulling her victim, an almost naked youth, by the hair behind her with her right hand. His innocence is shown by his nakedness, signifying that he has nothing to hide. In vain has he folded his hands so as to beseech his deliverance. Behind Calumny, the figures of Fraud and Perfidy are studiously engaged in hypocritically braiding the hair of their mistress with a white ribbon and strewing roses over her head and shoulders. In the deceitful forms of beautiful young women, they are making insidious use of the symbols of purity and innocence to adorn the lies of Calumny.