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Jean-François de Troy, Time unveiling Truth

Key facts
Full title Time unveiling Truth
Artist Jean-François de Troy
Artist dates 1679 - 1752
Date made 1733
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 203 × 208 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit Bought, 1979
Inventory number NG6454
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Time unveiling Truth
Jean-François de Troy

Winged Father Time unveils Truth, who is dressed in white and rests her foot on a globe, symbolising the Earth from which she has sprung. With her left hand, Truth unmasks Deceit, while with her right she gestures to the four cardinal virtues: Prudence, holding a snake; Temperance, carrying a water jug; Justice, with sword and scales; and Fortitude, who rests her elbow on a lion. The subject is based on the classical motto, ‘Truth is the daughter of Time’, meaning that truth becomes apparent through the passage of time.

The monumental figures occupy the foreground like actors on a stage set. They are organised in a balanced pyramidal arrangement with Time and Truth positioned at the top, perhaps to indicate that they will triumph. While all the figures look at Truth, she looks at us, drawing us into the image and guiding us around it by the interplay of glances and hand gestures.

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