Allegory of Christian Belief

Johann Liss (German, c. 1597-1631)c. 1622

The Cleveland Museum of Art

The Cleveland Museum of Art
Cleveland, United States

This exceedingly rare drawing is one of only two signed sheets by Liss, who, in spite of the brevity of his career, was one of the most important German-born painters of the 17th century. Here, faith is personified as a woman with bared breasts and bare feet, symbolic of true Christian belief: plain, pure, and without artifice. She has cast aside worldly things-a crown, scepter, and book-and gazes heavenward as smoke wafts from an urn. The long inscription indicates that the sheet is from an album amicorum, or friendship book, in which drawings, poems, and autographs were collected as souvenirs of acquaintanceships. Liss may have made the drawing to dazzle an influential recipient with his inventive interpretation of a traditional religious subject.

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  • Title: Allegory of Christian Belief
  • Creator: Johann Liss (German, c. 1597-1631)
  • Date Created: c. 1622
  • Physical Dimensions: Sheet: 15.3 x 9.4 cm (6 x 3 11/16 in.)
  • Provenance: Dr. O. Feldmann, Brünn, Austria, Karl Eduard von Liphart (?) (Cleveland 1975, p. 143, no. B50); Freiherr Reinhold von Liphart, Dorpat (Lugt 1758, VERSO, upper left, in black ink); Dr. O. Feldmann, Brünn, Austria (Cleveland 1975, p. 143, no. B50); Edmund Schilling, London (Cleveland 1975, p. 143, no. B50); [Herbert N. Bier]
  • Type: Drawing
  • Rights: CC0
  • External Link: https://clevelandart.org/art/1953.6
  • Medium: pen and brown ink and brush and brown wash; framing lines in pen and black ink
  • Inscriptions: signed, lower right, in brown ink: Johan Liss / Mahler [illegible] / Holsati[a][masked] ; by artist, upper right, in brown ink: Alle Kunst undt widtz ist / eitel staub. / Hoch weisheidt ist ann. / Christum gelaub. ; by artist, lower right, in brown ink: Zu Rom den 19 martis Ao ["o" in superscript] 16[illegible, final two numbers abraded] ; upper left, in brown ink: + [collector's mark?]; upper right, along right edge, in brown ink: 265 [sideways] ; VERSO, upper left, in ink: 572 ; upper right, in graphite: 69 [sideways] ; center, in graphite: No. 99 al ; lower right, in graphite: Joh. Liss. [erased] ; lower left, in graphite: mj [?] ; lower left, in graphite: T5910 ; lower left, in graphite: Jah. Lys 1570-1626 ; lower right, in graphite(?): Bo. 20
  • Department: Drawings
  • Culture: Germany, 17th century
  • Credit Line: Dudley P. Allen Fund
  • Collection: DR - German
  • Accession Number: 1953.6

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