- Inventory number
- Veronese, Paolo
- Young man between Vice and Virtue
- Ca. 1581
- 102 cm x 153 cm
- On display
- Royal Collection (New Royal Palace, Madrid, “antecámara de su majestad”, 1772, nº 1135; New Royal Palace, Madrid, “pieza de paso que va a la librería”, 1794, nº 1135; Royal Palace, Madrid, “tercer gabinete-paso a la librería”, 1814-1819, nº 1135)
The moralizing intention of this work shows the two paths that will tempt men over the course of their lives: Virtue and Vice. Virtue, wearing the crown of laurels that has been her symbol since Antiquity, and hiding her anatomy under ample vestments, takes the youth by the hand. Vice, in the form of a blond Venetian courtesan with a generous décolleté and numerous jewels, reaches out to the youth in an effort to catch his attention.
This scene is based on the fictitious story by Prodicus, as told by the Greek historian and philosopher, Xenophon (430-354 B.C.) in his Memorabilia. The same story was mentioned by Saint Basil (330-379): Hercules as a boy, being solicited by both paths.
This is a work from Veronese's youth. He returned to this subject in his maturity, possibly as a self-portrait, in a painting now at the Frick Collection in New York.
The present work is first mentioned in the 1666 inventory of Madrid's Alcázar Palace.