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Unidentified allegorical scene

The painting's subject was recorded in the Cartwright inventory as 'Tyme & Truth', but this seems to be an iconographically unusual depiction of this allegorical theme. The identity of Time cannot be doubted as he bears his usual attributes but, whereas he is usually shown either unveiling Truth (as in Bronzino's painting in the National Gallery) or delivering her from the clutches of Envy and Discord, here he is shown unchaining a female figure from a rock. This figure may presumably also represent a city, since she seems to have a mural crown as a headdress; at her feet are arms, on the right a wounded man, and in the right background a town in flames. It is as if the allegory has become fused with the myth of Perseus and Andromeda. The figure of Truth bears a distinct resemblance to that of the chained heroine in Titian's Perseus and Andromeda (Wallace Collection). Several of the objects which litter the foreground could serve in either story; for example, the oval shield with the snake-haired woman's head is both a traditional way of showing Envy in Time and Truth paintings and a literal prop from the legend of Perseus and Andromeda. This panel is probably by a Netherlandish artist working at the end of the sixteenth century, presumably one with some knowledge of Venetian painting. It has some similarities to the work of Titian's Dutch pupil, Lambert Sustris, but is of a far lower quality.

Not currently on display

British or Flemish School (Tobias Verhaecht?)
Late 16th Century
38.7 x 48.3 cm
Oil on oak panel
Cartwright Bequest, 1686
Accession number