Truth Illuminating Human Blindness

Baldassare Franceschiniabout 1650

The J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum
Los Angeles, United States

In this figure study, a lightly sketched female personification of Truth removes a veil from the eyes of an allegorical figure. Holding symbols of earthly greed-a scepter and crown-the reclining figure represents intellectual and spiritual Blindness.

Volterrano showed his great command of the red chalk technique with the figure of Blindness, shaped by soft, richly applied strokes. With sensitivity and economy, he added luminous highlights of white lead. To develop the boundaries of her body and define her relationship to other elements, Volterrano relied on more than contour. For instance, he used the paper, touches of lead white, and the chalk shading that defines the cushions to create the form of her left arm.

Volterrano made this drawing for a fresco in a palazzo in Florence. In the fresco, Truth holds a book in her upraised left hand, and additional symbols of earthly greed, including two sacks of money, surround the jeweled figure of Blindness.

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  • Title: Truth Illuminating Human Blindness
  • Creator: Volterrano (Baldassare Franceschini)
  • Date: about 1650
  • Location Created: Italy
  • Physical Dimensions: 46.7 x 39.1 cm (18 3/8 x 15 3/8 in.)
  • External Link: Find out more about this object on the Museum website.
  • Medium: Red chalk, heightened with white gouache
  • Source Credit Line: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
  • Object Type: Drawing
  • Object Status: Permanent Collection
  • Number: 91.GB.51
  • Display Location: Not currently on view
  • Department: Drawings
  • Culture: Italian
  • Classification: Drawings