(b. 1441, Firenze, d. 1496, Roma)


Tempera grassa on panel, 168 x 91 cm
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence

Seven paintings of the same size, representing the seven virtues, were commissioned from Piero del Pollaiuola in 1469 as the backs for chairs in the Audience Chamber in the Tribunale di Mercanzia in Piazza della Signoria, Florence. Six of these - representing Charity, Faith, Hope, Justice, Prudence and Temperance - were executed by Piero, while the seventh - Fortitude - was painted by the young Botticelli. The cycle was completed in 1472.

The Tribunale di Mercanzia was the body that decided on the business disputes between Florentine merchants and administered justice among the guilds, known as the Arts. In the 18th century, the wealth and heritage of this judiciary went to the Chamber of Commerce, including the seven paintings of the Virtues, taken to the Uffizi Galleries in 1777.

Faith is personified as a young woman, captured as she looks up to the heavens, holding the calyx of the eucharist in her right hand, covered by the paten, while the processional cross is in her left.

This panel, together with the Temperance, was painted before summer of 1470, partly fulfilling the contract that obliged the painter to provide two panels with the Virtues every three months, starting from 1 January 1470, for a payment of 20 florins for each one.

In this work Piero del Pollaiolo shows extraordinary virtuosity in depicting the gold jewellery, inspired by the most elegant, precious ecclesiastical ornaments in use in the 15th century.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.