National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Claudia Quinta Neroccio de' Landi (painter)
Sienese, 1447 - 1500
Claudia Quinta, c. 1490/1495
tempera on panel
overall: 105 x 46 cm (41 5/16 x 18 1/8 in.) framed: 128.91 x 77.47 x 8.26 cm (50 3/4 x 30 1/2 x 3 1/4 in.)
Andrew W. Mellon Collection
1937.1.12
On View
From the Tour: Siena in the 1400s
Object 6 of 7

Claudia Quinta embodied the greatest virtues of Roman womanhood—chastity, piety, and fortitude. It had been prophesied that Roman victory in the Second Punic War depended on bringing Cybele, the Anatolian Great Mother goddess, to Rome. But when a ship with her image arrived at the mouth of the Tiber River, it became mired in mud. Strong men were unable to free it. Claudia was a virtuous young matron, falsely accused of impropriety, who had prayed to Cybele for a sign of her innocence. At the goddess's direction she slipped a slender cord over the ship's bow and easily pulled the vessel free.

This painting was part of a set of at least seven works representing paragons of virtue. Such cycles devoted to famous men and women of the past had been popular since the Middle Ages and seemed to enjoy particular favor in Siena. The men and women in this set, taken from ancient literature and the Bible, were renowned for chastity, fortitude, or self-restraint. In civic buildings such cycles usually focused on men of political courage, but because this group contains so many women and concentrates on more "domestic" virtues, it probably decorated a private house.

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