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Alessandro Turchi (Verona 1578-Rome 1649)

Virtue 1606

Oil on canvas | 131.3 x 60.3 x 2.3 cm (support, canvas/panel/str external) | RCIN 402849

King's Bed Chamber, Windsor Castle

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  • This painting depicting Virtue formed one side of an organ shutter originally painted for the organ in the newly built music hall at the Accademia Filarmonica in Verona. When the shutters were closed Honour appeared on the left with Virtue on the right. The figure was inspired by Cesare Ripa's Iconologia and the artist probably consulted the 1603 edition which has some woodcut illustrations. The female winged figure of Virtue clutches a laurel crown and a spear in her right hand, as described by Ripa, who adds a sun at her breast.

    The earliest attribution of the organ shutters to Turchi appears in Pellegrino Antonio Orlandi's Abecedario Pittorico of 1753, where the author recalls that 'Mr Joseph Smith, Consul of England has four beautiful figures painted in four separate paintings by the said author, which at one time adorned the organ of the Accademici Filarmonici in Verona'. In 1749 fire had destroyed the Accademia's new theatre and subsequently much of their art collection was dispersed, including the organ shutters. It is very likely that it was at this point that the paintings entered the collection of the English Consul Joseph Smith, where they were recorded by Orlandi four years later. By 1762 Smith, an insatiable and influential art collector, had fallen into considerable financial difficulty, thus forcing him to sell his large collection to King George III. The list of works bought by the English monarch includes the four paintings by Turchi and identifies them as Valour, Music, Poetry and Fortitude.

    Catalogue entry adapted from The Art of Italy in the Royal Collection: Renaissance and Baroque, London, 2007
    Provenance

    Acquired in 1762 by George III from Joseph Smith, British Consul in Venice (Italian List no 239) as part of a set of four with an attribution to Turchi, all are recorded in the Great Room of the Library at Buckingham Palace in 1790

  • Medium and techniques

    Oil on canvas

    Measurements

    131.3 x 60.3 x 2.3 cm (support, canvas/panel/str external)

    150.8 x 79.3 x 6.5 cm (frame, external)

  • Alternative title(s)

    Fortitude (?)

    'Victory', suggested by Michael Levey