Allegory of a Noble’s Education

Franz Anton Maulbertsch

Franz Anton Maulbertsch - Allegory of a Noble’s Education
Maulbertsch placed the figure of a young man nearly in the centre of the composition. The man is accompanied by Minerva, the goddess of wisdom, who points to the three Graces with her hand. Together, they overcome time: the helpless Saturn is drawn in a carriage by two putti. The third putto is setting fire to military equipment with a torch, to express the idea that no good can come from war. By this act, he makes the way for the youth to follow the three Graces (on the very right), as a personification of higher intellectual values. The young man is depicted as Hercules on a crossroads, deciding whether to choose the path of virtue, or the dependence on moral flaws. As a warning against human immodesty and desire for the unattainable, the falling Icarus and Phaëthon are represented on the very left. The meaning of the woman holding a child in her arms is not unambiguous, but it could point to the young man’s childhood. Maulbertsch worked on the theme of education several times. The Prague painting (c. 1755) shows outstanding painting treatment, based on loose, even sketch-like brushwork.
measurements: height 70 cm
width 104 cm
in collections:
material: canvas
technique: oil
inventory number: O 13897
gallery collection: Collection of Old Masters