In 1559 and 1560 Pieter Bruegel the Elder drew the designs for a series of prints depicting the seven virtues. The prints were engraved around the same time by Philips Galle and were published in Antwerp by Hieronymus Cock. The museum owns three of the preparatory drawings. The subtle, linear drawing style formed the starting point for Galle’s more tonal 'painterly’ interpretation in print form.

Charity holds a heart in her hand. On her head sits a pelican, a bird that was historically believed to feed its young with its own blood in times of famine. Around the figure are the seven works of charity: feeding the hungry, refreshing the thirsty, receiving travellers, clothing the naked, visiting the sick, comforting prisoners and burying the dead.


  • Title: Caritas (Charity)
  • Creator Lifespan: circa 1525 - 1569
  • Creator Nationality: Flemish
  • Creator Gender: Male
  • Creator Death Place: Brussels, Belgium
  • Creator Birth Place: Probably in or near Breda, the Netherlands
  • Date Created: 1559
  • Theme: Christianity
  • Physical Dimensions: w294 x h223 mm
  • Original Title: Caritas (Liefde)
  • Draughtsman: Pieter Bruegel the Elder
  • Artist Information: Pieter Bruegel the Elder was born around 1525, probably in or near Breda. From 1551 he worked in Antwerp, at the time one of the most important cities in Western Europe. In 1552 or 1553, he travelled via France to Italy, right down to Sicily. After 1560, he went to work in Brussels, where he married the daughter of Pieter Coecke van Aelst, who was probably his teacher. Initially he produced mainly landscapes, but later figurative pieces, with religious, didactic or satirical subjects, predominated. Thanks to the last two subjects, he acquired the nickname 'Farmer Bruegel'. Pieter Bruegel the Elder was the founder of a painters' dynasty, which included his sons Pieter Brueghel the Younger, known as 'Hell Brueghel', Jan Brueghel the Elder, known as 'Velvet Brueghel', and his grandsons Jan Brueghel the Younger and David Teniers the Younger.
  • Type: Drawing
  • Rights: Lent by Stichting Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen 1940 ( Koenigs Collection), http://collectie.boijmans.nl/en/disclaimer/
  • External Link: Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen
  • Medium: Pen in brown ink

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