VERONESE, Paolo
(b. 1528, Verona, d. 1588, Venezia)

Honor et Virtus post mortem floret

before 1567
Oil on canvas, 219 x 170 cm
Frick Collection, New York

Marked top left with the inscription (HO)NOR ET VIRTVS/ (P)OSTMORTE(M) FLORET, this picture is also described as Hercules between Virtue and Vice, alluding to the story told in Hesiod when Hercules meets two beautiful women at a fork in the road. The youthful hero of the allegory is an elegantly clad Venetian in white silk garments, who was taken at the end of the 17th century, when the picture was in the collection of Queen Christina of Sweden in Rome, to be a self-portrait of the artist. Unhesitatingly he turns to Virtue, who is crowned with a laurel wreath. Drops of blood on his ripped leg covering testify to the fruitless attempt by Vice — Lust and Pleasure, in the long run the death-bringing opponent of Virtue - to hold back the man of honour and win him over.