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Giuseppe Salviati, Justice

Key facts
Full title Justice
Artist Giuseppe Salviati
Artist dates active 1535 to 1573
Date made about 1559
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 90.2 × 125.1 cm
Acquisition credit Mond Bequest, 1924
Inventory number NG3942
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Giuseppe Salviati

Justice sits between two lions and looks down at her golden scales. The lion of Saint Mark is a symbol of Venice, so she may represent Justice in that city. Her scales weigh right from wrong, and her sword punishes the guilty. Beside her, a golden shield is painted with the coat of arms of the Contarini del Zaffo, an important Venetian family.

The picture may have been painted for the Venetian mint, the building in which the Venetian currency was struck and regulated. In its original form, the painting is likely to have been a lunette, or semicircle. It was intended to be displayed high up, perhaps above a door, or to fill some similar arched space. Additional painted canvas has been added to all sides except the lower edge.

The varnish has darkened, obscuring many of the original colours. The dark lines in the sky are parts of the underdrawing now visible through the paint which has become translucent over time.

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