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An Allegory of Humanist Virtue

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Padua (made)

  • Date:

    early 16th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Briosco, Andrea Il Riccio, born 1470 - died 1532 (sculptor)

  • Materials and Techniques:


  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This plaquette depicts an allegory of Fame and is made by Il Riccio, in Padua in the early 16th century.
It is possible that this is an allegory of, more specifically, literary fame. The trumpet, palm and sphere of the female figure are standard attributes of Fame. The overturned vase occurs in an umber of Riccio's medals, where its connotation seems a rather general one of the past surpassed. The palm-tree has an association with virtue, but sometimes also points to literary success. The three branches of laurel are attributes of Apollo and therefore commonly refer to literature. The putto, or genius, both bearing fruits and watering the tree, would then carry a reference to the production and sustaining of literature.
Riccio (1470-1532) - meaning 'Curly-Head' - worked primarily in bronze and is acknowledged as the master of the bronze statuette during the late 15th and early 16th centuries. He was active in the humanist circle of the University of Padua, in north-east Italy. Riccio was trained as a goldsmith and lived and worked all his live in Padua. Today he is acknowledged as one of the greatest bronze sculptors of the Renaissance.
His statuettes, functional objects, like oil lamps, and reliefs reflect Riccio's inimitable ability to express the most refined humanist ideas prevalent in the Veneto in bronze.
He was also a specialist in rendering themes of Classical mythology.
His oeuvre is often neglected because of its small scale, but it constitutes one of the most fascinating manifestations of the poetic paganism of the High Renaissance.

Physical description

On the right, a winged and draped female figure sits on a garlanded sphere. In her left hand is a palm; with her right hand she holds a trumpet to her lips; under her feet lies an overturned vase. In the centre grows a palm-tree on which three branches either of olive or of laurel are grafted. On the left, on a pedestal terminating in a horned mask, a putto leans forward. With his left hand he holds a basket of fruit on his head, and with his right a ewer in a position appropriate to watering the palm-tree.

Place of Origin

Padua (made)


early 16th century (made)


Briosco, Andrea Il Riccio, born 1470 - died 1532 (sculptor)

Materials and Techniques



Diameter: 5.4 cm

Object history note

Given by Messrs. Peel and Humphris, London, in 1961.

Descriptive line

Plaquette, bronze, an Allegory of Fame, by Il Riccio, Italian (Padua), early 16th century



Subjects depicted

Palm-tree; Fruit basket; Putto; Garland; Trumpet; Female figure; Vase; Ewer


Plaques & Plaquettes; Myths & Legends; Sculpture


Sculpture Collection

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