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Portrait of a lady Digby Venice, symbolizing Prudence

Painting, 1634, 101.1×80.2 cm

Description of the artwork «Portrait of a lady Digby Venice, symbolizing Prudence»

"Portrait of lady Digby Venice, symbolizing Prudence" – painting to van Dyck unusual and very intriguing. Presented at the National portrait gallery (London) the image of the lady Digby is a constant surprise to most. Those familiar with the works of van Dyck, wondering why he suddenly resorted to allegory to genre painting, which has always been indifferent? For those who collides with van Dyck for the first time, the question is much more elementary and yet prevomerine: why the heroine of the canvases, overshadowed by three cupids, flagrantly violating the fourth leg? There must be some explanation for this sudden and unceremonious gesture?

In 1632, the Flemish painter, native of Antwerp, Anthony van Dyck stepped on English soil, to become painter to the king. After the Royal family by van Dyck built up a large queue of British aristocrats who wanted to get a portrait in his unsurpassed elegant design. The artist was a native of the merchant class, but wanted to belong to the circle of aristocrats. In England this has been implemented: van Dyck received the dignity of knighthood and nobility, married the Royal lady-in-waiting and won friends among the nobles belonging to the ancient names. One of them was for van Dyck the young man called Kenelm Lord Digby. The personality of the gifted, Navigator, diplomat and writer, he was charming, funny and was a patron of van Dyck.

With all the undeniable merits, the noble Lord Digby had one weakness – his wife. Venice Digby was fabulously good-looking, but very frivolous. Marriage, Digby knew about her "gay" youth, but was too in love to listen to the voice of reason. According to rumors, and after the wedding, lady Digby did not change itself – in the sense that began to change her husband. Not that it was explicitly, but, in any case, gossip about the messy relationships of Venice at the court continued.

In 1633 lady of Venice in the Prime years suddenly died. Kenelm Digby was beside herself with grief. Wanting to support a friend, van Dijk writes posthumous portrait of his wifeeven in a coffin, draped in black satin, and a white shroud lady Digby is beautiful! But it was of little consolation to the widower. Now, when the wife did not return, Lord Digby is most worried about his good name. And he tries to persuade van Dyck to paint a picture which with all the power of the art would be able to rehabilitate the tarnished reputation of lady Digby. So was born the "portrait of a lady Digby Venice, symbolizing Prudence."

Kenelm Digby personally advised van Dyck what the symbols and allegories it would be good to use on the painting. Doves symbolize marital fidelity lady Digby, the snake is her wisdom. Half-naked man with a mask on his head is an allegorical figure of duplicity, crushed moral superiority of Venice. Well, Cupid, personifying love, the temptations, the virtuous is crushed legs lady Digby.

Author: Anna Yesterday
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About the artwork

Art form: Painting

Subject and objects: Allegorical scene

Style of art: Baroque

Technique: Oil

Materials: Canvas

Date of creation: 1634

Size: 101.1×80.2 cm

Artwork in selections: 11 selections