The Choice of a Boy between Virtue and Vice
after Paolo Veronese (Verona 1528 -Venice 1588)
Immodest Vice, her chest almost bared, is shown to the left, outstretching her arm towards the boy, whom she tries to ensnare. Her lavish brocade dress, intricate sandals and the pearls woven into her hair are all testament to her vanity. By contrast, Virtue is bare-footed, unadorned, and wearing simple robes, which she clasps tightly around her. It is clear that the boy, in the dress of a young nobleman, has chosen the austere path of Virtue. The original is in the Prado, Madrid. It appears that the Attingham copy was made at a much later date. A much later picture by Veronese, with the same theme, but infinitely more poetical, is in the Frick Collection, New York.
Oil painting on canvas, The Choice of a Boy between Virtue and Vice, after Paolo Veronese (Verona 1528 -Venice 1588), 19th century. Three full-length figures, left to right, Vice in the form of a young woman, seated, turned to the right, her left arm extended to the boy in the centre, her right arm reclining on the back of her chair, she is richly dressed with a gold and white brocade skirt and dark green overdress, open sandals and has pearls woven into her hair, a brocade drape behind her and a carved term discretely draped looks down on her; a classical building in the background occupies the next space, four pillars with entablature and a large plinth on which is a lion; almost centre is a young boy, walking to the right, dressed in doublet and hose, his right hand on his breast, his left hand reaching out to Virtue in the form of a young woman, dressed in plain white, yellow and green drapes and bare-footed, walking to the right, she turns to the boy, her left hand holding her dress and her right hand reaching back to grasp the outstretched hand of the boy. A copy of a painting in the Prado, Madrid.
Attingham collection. 1913 Inventory p.64; bequeathed to the National Trust with the estate, house and contents of Attingham by Thomas Henry Noel-Hill, 8th Baron Berwick (1877-1947) on 15th May 1953.
Attingham Park, The Berwick Collection (National Trust)
Marks and inscriptions
On reverse of canvas: The Berwick Arms On stretcher (top): 8 On stretcher (bottom): REALE ACCADEMIA DELLE BELLE ARTI VENEZIA On stretcher (bottom): ATT/P/091 On reverse of frame (top) : 45 8 (in blue chalk) On reverse of frame (left): a red wax seal (rubbed and indecipherable) On reverse of frame (left): Battyke Cyris (?) On reverse of frame (bottom): Collo Soumo (?) Pao-o Veronessi On reverse of frame (bottom): ATT/P/091
Makers and roles
after Paolo Veronese (Verona 1528 -Venice 1588), artist