|Title||A Christian Allegory of the Salvation of the Christian Soul|
|Collection||Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle|
|Artist|| Attributed to circle of Claeissins, Pieter II (Flemish artist, active late 16th-early 17th century)
Previously attributed to French School
|Date Earliest||possibly about 1570|
|Date Latest||possibly about 1600|
The Christian soul, represented as a naked man, is crowned with a laurel wreath by a winged Victory. A skeleton and a dragon appear defeated at his feet, as symbols of Death and the Devil claiming a fallen soul. They are surrounded by female personifications of the three theological virtues: Faith, holding a cross, Charity with a flaming heart, and Hope, with the Scriptures and an anchor.
The use of classical sources within the moral didacticism of the allegory would have appealed to the humanist audience for whom artists such as Maerten van Heemskerck and Frans Floris worked.
|Current Accession Number||B.M.953|
|Former Accession Number||No. 159|
|Inscription||front ul 'DEUS'|
|Subject||allegory (Christian salvation); religion|
|Measurements||90 x 102.5 cm (estimate)|
|Material||oil on panel|
|Acquisition Details||Bequeathed by the founders John and Joséphine Bowes 1885.|
This painting was previously attributed to the French school and dated about 1700, until it was reattributed to a painter from the circle of Pieter Claeissins II, who was active in Bruges between 1570 and 1621. Claeissins's recourse to Italian formulas and his frequent use of allegory are two characteristics apparent in this work. The handling, however, is thought to be that of a less experienced painter (Joost Vander Auwera, correspondence, 1995).
The subject, composition, and the classicising modelling of the bodies of the Christian soul and the fallen soul could also be related to the work of Frans Floris I (1509-1570).
The allegorical treatment of the theme of salvation presents some similarities with the imagery of Maerten van Heemskerck. The hair-styles, draperies and, especially, the profiles of the female figures recall Heemskerck's distinctive types. The painting might be a copy after an unidentified allegorical print by Heemskerck. In the Catalogue of the Prints which Have Been Engraved after Martin Heemskerck, compiled by Thomas Kerrich in 1829, the section entitled 'Miscellanies' includes a description of the image of Homo with the Three Theological Virtues and a Cripple, which might have provided a model for this painting.
|Rights Owner||The Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle, Co. Durham|
|Author||Dr Mercedes Cerón; Dr Howard Coutts|