An Allegory ('Vision of a Knight')

This early work by Raphael was made in about 1504.

The sleeping knight may be intended to represent the Roman hero Scipio Africanus (236 - 184 BC) who was presented in a dream with a choice between Virtue (behind whom is a steep and rocky path) and Pleasure (in looser robes). However, the ladies are not presented as contestants. They may represent the ideal attributes of the knight: the book, sword and flower which they hold suggest the ideals of scholar, soldier and lover which a knight should combine.

A pricked cartoon for the painting is in the British Museum.

Key facts

Artist dates
1483 - 1520
Full title
An Allegory ('Vision of a Knight')
Date made
about 1504
Medium and support
Oil on poplar
17.1 x 17.3 cm
Acquisition credit
Bought, 1847
Inventory number
Location in Gallery