LICINIO, Bernardino
(b. ca. 1489, Poscante, d. ca. 1565, Venezia)

Allegory of Love

c. 1520
Oil on canvas
Private collection

This painting appears at first sight to be a triple portrait. The features are very natural, and the figures wear fashionable contemporary dress. But other elements make it likely that they were meant to be interpreted allegorically, and not as recognisable people. In particular, the prominent way in which roses are displayed on the ledge in the foreground and in the woman's belt clearly allude to the sweetness but transience of love. Nor can this be a simple scene of everyday music making, since the musical score is for an instrument, yet the figures represented are not instrumentalists. Instead, music is invoked as another poignant symbol of the transience of beauty and happiness.

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