Allegory of Prudence

Allegory of Prudence
Artist Titian
Year 1565-1570
Medium Oil on canvas
Location National Gallery of London
Dimensions 30.0 in × 27.0 in
76.2 cm × 68.6 cm
Famous Paintings by Titian
Rape of Europa
Sacred and Profane Love
Pastoral Concert
The Assumption of the Virgin
Christ Carrying the Cross
The Flaying of Marsyas
Allegory of Prudence
The Worship of Venus
View Complete Works

Tiziano Vecelli (Vecellio), or also recognized as Titian, was a Venetian Renaissance artist who created the painting Allegory of Prudence. It is an oil on canvas painting, depicting three head portraits on top and three animal portraits on the bottom. It is a painting which was completed just before Titian died of the plague, in 1576. It is rich in allegory, or characters representing concepts, and is also titled Allegory of Time Governed by Prudence. Allegory of Prudence was created in 1565 and is now in the Collection of the National Gallery, London.


Titian is recognized as the greatest painter of sixteenth century Venice. He was the first painter of his time, to have a mainly international clientele. There is no accurate documentation of his date of birth, but it is suggested that he was born around 1490, and died in 1576. In the late 1560’s, and early 1570’s, he pushed his art to the edge of abstraction, and his very late style is defined as magic impressionism. During his long career as a painter, Titian experimented with many styles. It is suggested that Allegory of Prudence used various styles as well.

Allegory Portrayed

The three head portraits in the painting allude to the three ages of man. On the left, Titian’s self-portrait represents the past, and old age. In the center is Orazio his son, representing the present, and maturity. On the right is Marco, his cousin, representing the future, or youth.

Under the portraits is a triple-headed figure, depicting a wolf, lion, and dog, symbolizing prudence. These portraits also may symbolize memories, intelligence, and foresight. Marco is used in the painting as the future, because Titian did not have any grandchildren, and Marco was to receive his inheritance, after Titian’s death.

There is a motto or inscription above the portraits. It is divided into three sections, with the respective portraits underneath. The inscription suggests that from past experiences, one should live the present prudently, so that future actions are not spoiled. This was thought to be directed to Titian’s family, before his death. He wanted to ensure that his family would be prudent in the use of their inheritance, as he was nearing death.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *