Frans Floris, attributed to
Flemish (born in Belgium), c. 1519–1570
Caritas (Allegory of Charity), c. 1550
oil on panel
133.5 x 105 cm
Collection of the Winnipeg Art Gallery; Acquired with funds from The Winnipeg Foundation
Inspired by the muscular and twisting nudes of Michelangelo and other Italian maniera painters, Frans Floris was one of the chief representatives of the Antwerp Mannerist school. This group of Flemish artists produced numerous paintings for the Spanish nobility and wealthy patrons living in Antwerp. In a lavish display of elegantly posed figures and billowing drapery that anticipates the Baroque splendour of Peter Paul Rubens, the WAG painting depicts a familiar Catholic theme. Featured here is the allegorical figure of Charity or Caritas accompanied by four playful putti. As the personification of profane and divine love, Charity (together with the other Christian virtues) became a popular emblem of the Catholic church during the Counter-Reformation.