This is a later, slightly smaller, copy after Van Dyck's allegory of Charity – a painting that was executed in Antwerp soon after the artist's return from Italy in 1627. Today it is in the National Gallery, London (inv. no. NG6494; 148.2 x 107.5 cm., oil on oak panel)1. The influence of contemporary Italian artists, such as Titian and Guido Reni, whose work Van Dyck encountered during his trip south, is strongly evident in the composition, the dynamic gestures and expressions of the figures, and the warm, dark colours of the original.
The personification of the Theological Virtue was a subject favoured by artists since the sixteenth century. Van Dyck's painting was engraved not long after its execution by Cornelis van Caukercken, which undoubtedly contributed to the composition's popularity, attested to by a number of copies and versions. The present painting was likely derived from the Caukercken print since the colours used, particularly those of the female figure's drapery, do not correspond to those in the original.
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