Taken from Bruegel’s series of “The World of Seven Virtues,” Hope is personified here as the unshakeable figure amidst a sea of torment and a world of despair. She stands courageously, looking on, with a beehive atop her head, a scythe in one hand, and a shovel in the other. These three tools symbolize some of the most dangerous professions of men and those who are in need of Hope the most.
According to H. Arthur Klein:
“At first sight this print may seem an instance of bitter irony: Hope stands blandly, calmly, holding her symbols, while behind her men suffer all manner of catastrophe, loss, and misery. Yet it is clear that to Bruegel and the ethical point of view he represented graphically, Hope was what gave men strength to hang on somehow ‘amid so many nearly insupportable woes.’ One hopes that despite the disaster one will come through somehow. Without the woe – imminent or eventuated – what would be the meaning of hope? There has to be something one hopes to overcome or survive or get away from” (p. 122) .
Created c. 1560, Hope features the following inscription in the lower margin: IVCVNDISSIMA EST SPEI PERSVASIO, ET VITAE IMPRIMIS NECESSARIA, INTER TOT AERVMNAS PENQ INTOLERABILES (The assurance that hope gives us is most pleasant and most essential to an existence amid so many nearly insupportable woes) . The signature of Bruegel is inscribed in cartouche in the lower left: ‘BRVGEL. INV.’ With ‘H. cock excu.’ in cartouche in the lower right. The latin, SPES (Hope) is also inscribed in cartouche 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 bronze and gold frame, the ribbon detailing of the moulding compliments the meandering curved shapes within the image. Decorative detail echo acanthus leaves which evoke a classical aura to the work. Completed with white, linen-wrapped mats with a matching gold inner fillet, Hope is set behind an archival Plexiglas® cover.