An Allegory

Image credit: The National Gallery, London

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Propped up on a pink cushion, this young, fair-haired woman – the ideal of beauty in Renaissance Florence – gazes directly at us. She seems oblivious to the three chubby little boys around her, clutching at handfuls of pink roses.

This idealised beauty may represent fertility, with which the pomegranate – tucked under her arm – containing many seeds was often associated. The picture’s long horizontal format, the reclining blonde in a white dress and playful children recall Botticelli’s Venus and Mars, also in the National Gallery’s collection.

We do not know who the artist was, but the picture may be based on Venus and Mars. Like that painting, it may have been placed in the room of a newly wed Florentine couple in order to encourage fertility and, therefore, the birth of many children to carry on the family name.

The National Gallery, London



An Allegory


about 1500


Tempera and oil on wood


H 92.1 x W 172.7 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

Bought, 1874

Work type



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The National Gallery, London

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