Allegory of Christian Belief

Allegory of Christian Belief

c. 1622

Johann Liss

(German, c. 1597-1631)

Pen and brown ink and brush and brown wash; framing lines in pen and black ink

Support: Beige(1) laid paper

Sheet: 15.3 x 9.4 cm (6 x 3 11/16 in.)

Dudley P. Allen Fund 1953.6

Description

This exceedingly rare drawing is one of only two signed sheets by Liss, who, in spite of the brevity of his career, was one of the most important German-born painters of the 17th century. Here, faith is personified as a woman with bared breasts and bare feet, symbolic of true Christian belief: plain, pure, and without artifice. She has cast aside worldly things-a crown, scepter, and book-and gazes heavenward as smoke wafts from an urn. The long inscription indicates that the sheet is from an album amicorum, or friendship book, in which drawings, poems, and autographs were collected as souvenirs of acquaintanceships. Liss may have made the drawing to dazzle an influential recipient with his inventive interpretation of a traditional religious subject.

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