Taken from Bruegel’s series of “The World of Seven Virtues,” Fortitude is represented here as a courageous angel, standing upon the neck of evil as she tethers the chain around his neck. Nothing seems to distract her, amidst the brewing and tumultuous scene of men in the background, conquering their evil vices. It is splendidly engraved, with fruitful detail and endless action.
According to H. Arthur Klein:
The Fortitude Bruegel represents in this print is the virtue whereby men overcome vices. It is a positive, militant quality. It is by no means a mere omission of evil acts; neither is it rash or reckless bravado. It is the courageous facing and conquest of harmful passions and the sins to which they lead. (130)
Created c. 1560, Fortitude features the following inscription in the lower margin: ANIMVM VINCERE, IRACVNDIAM COHIBERE, CAETERAQ [VE] VITIA ET, AFFECTVS | COHIBERE, VERA FORTITVDO EST (To conquer one’s impulses, to restrain anger and the other vices and emotions: this is the true fortitude). The signature of Bruegel is inscribed in the lower right: ‘Bruegel Inuentor’ with FORTITVDO (Fortitude) in the lower center. A lifetime impression from the only state of two by Philips Galle based on an original work by Pieter Bruegel featuring the inscribed text plate along the lower margin on watermarked paper dating the piece to c. 1559 – 1591 (Gothic P with Flower, Br. 8715 - 8723).
ABOUT THE FRAMING:
Set in a Spanish style black and gold frame, the ribbon detailing of the moulding compliments the meandering curved shapes within the image. The black and gold coloration of the work also serves to enhance the contrasting colors within the frame as well. Completed with white, linen-wrapped mats with a matching gold inner fillet, Fortitude is set behind an archival Plexiglas cover.