Allegory of the Catholic Faith
Johannes Vermeer (Dutch, 16321675)
Oil on canvas, ca. 167072, Size 45 x 35 in. (114.3 x 88.9 cm)
Accession # 32.100.18
The Friedsam Collection, Bequest of Michael Friedsam, 1931

Gallery Label
"One of Vermeer's most unusual pictures, this large canvas was probably commissioned by a Catholic patron. The subject was adopted from a standard handbook of iconography, Cesare Ripa's "Iconologia." Vermeer interpreted Ripa's description of Faith with the "world at her feet" literally, showing a Dutch globe published in 1618. The divine world is suggested by the glass sphere hanging overhead. The painting of the Crucifixion on the wall copies a work by Jacob Jordaens. Among the several Christological symbols, the most prominent are the apple, emblem of the first sin, and the serpent (Satan) crushed by a stone (Christ, the "cornerstone" of the church). Dating from about 1670, the work strikes a balance between abstraction and haunting similitude."

Globe detail...

Serpent detail...

photos ©Joan Ann Lansberry, May, 2009