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Fragment of The Virtues Intercede for Man, from the Redemption of Man series
Fragment of The Virtues Intercede for Man, from the Redemption of Man series
ca. 1515
Not on display
Wool, Silk; Tapestry Weave
213.4 x 177.8 cm (84 x 70 in.)
Object Type:
Accession Number:
Acquisition Date:
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Bequest of Marguerite Brokaw Adams

Exhibition History:

Gallery Rotation, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Legion of Honor, 2003-2004

The struggle between God’s justice and his mercy reaches a critical point in the third panel of the Redemption of Man series. The scene has a garden setting with an apple tree at the left. A Divine Person, probably to be interpreted here as Christ, sits on an elevated throne. His authority is symbolized by the scepter and the orb. He wears a red cope with wide jeweled borders and a closed imperial crown. Two crowned allegorical figures sit on either side: Charity (CARITAS) in red, holding a scepter, and Humility (HUMILITAS) in blue with a nun’s veil, holding a white dove. Misery (MISERIA) stands before the throne, poorly dressed and leaning on a staff. The unlabeled foreground figure is Human Nature. She tears open her robe, exposing a dark undergarment. MISERICORDIA, or Mercy, kneels at the right, pleading for Man. Charity points with her left hand to Misery who holds up a charter as reminder of God’s promise of Redemption. Presumably in response to this plea, Christ raises his hand as if offering himself to save mankind. His acceptance leads to the next three panels dealing with his birth, childhood, manhood, and teaching. From Anna Gray Bennett, "Five Centuries of Tapestry: The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco" (San Francisco: Chronicle Books; The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, 1976; repr. 1992): 64.