Allegory of Prudence

Prudence, one of the four Cardinal Virtues, carries an arrow with a serpent entwined around it. The deer she rides is a symbol of prudence because it has to move cautiously on account of the weight of its antlers. The Oriental philosophers on the left represent Order and Reason. The two-faced figure with claws is Fraud, and Ignorance carries a donkey's head. In the sky are Abundance, Grace and Well-being.

This painting is one of a group of 10 modelli, or elaborated oil studies, made in preparation for the fresco projects that Giordano created for the Palazzo Medici Riccardi in Florence. This painting is connected with the ceiling of the Galleria.

Key facts

Artist dates
1634 - 1705
Full title
Allegory of Prudence
Date made
early 1680s
Medium and support
Oil on canvas
99.7 x 95.2 cm
Acquisition credit
Presented by the Trustees of Sir Denis Mahon's Charitable Trust through the Art Fund, 2013
Inventory number
Location in Gallery