Rae Johnsen

Moral Standards in Paolo Veronese’s “The Choice between Virtue and Vice” and “Wisdom and Strength”

Class of: 2026

Major: Illustration BFA

Medium: Text

Faculty: Sharyn Finnegan

Prompt: For this assignment, we visited exhibits at different museums in NYC and chose one or two works to research and analyze in our paper.

For my paper, I chose the Frick Collection’s two allegorical oil paintings by Paolo Veronese, “The Choice between Virtue and Vice” and “Wisdom and Strength”. They stood out to me not only for their striking beauty– rich color, dimensional figures, and fantastic detail– but for their wealth of symbolism. My background research was based primarily on the knowledge of Frick curator Xavier Salomon, who explained many of the more ambiguous symbols that Veronese uses in the works. Through these two spectacular paintings, Veronese expresses moral ideals that their original owners presumably lived by in their own lives. By understanding the meaning of every specific symbolic element in the two paintings, the viewer can determine just what those moral standards are.

Read an excerpt of Rae’s paper here: