allegory - When the literal content of a work stands for abstract ideas, suggesting a parallel, deeper, symbolic sense.
The adjectival form of this term can be either allegorical or allegoric.
Examples of allegorical paintings:
Francesco Pesellino (Francesco di Stefano) (Italian), Allegory of Rome, from De Secundo Bello Punico Poema by Silius Italicus, 1447-1457, gouache, gold leaf, pen and ink, watercolor on parchment 28.7 x 20.2 cm, Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia.
Sandro Botticelli (Italian, 1445-1510), Allegory of Spring (La Primavera), 1477-78, 10 feet 4 inches x 6 feet 9 inches (315 x 205 cm), painted for the villa of Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de' Medici at Castello, now in the Galleria degli Uffizi in Florence. See Renaissance.
Hieronymus Van Aeken Bosch (Flemish, 1450-1516)
Antonio Allegri, known as Correggio (Italian, c. 1489-1534), Allegory of Vices, c. 1529-1530, tempera on canvas, 1.42 x 0.85 m, Louvre. See Renaissance.
Dosso Dossi (Italian, about 1490-1542), Allegory of Fortune, about 1530, oil on canvas, 70 1/2 x 85 1/2 inches (178 x 216.5 cm), J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu, CA.
Rosso Fiorentino (Giovanni Battista di Jacopo di Guasparre) (Italian, Florence, 1494-1540), Allegory of Salvation with the Virgin, the Christ Child, Saint Elizabeth, the Young Saint John, and Two Angels, c. 1521, oil on panel, 63 1/2 x 47 inches (161.3 x 119.4 cm), Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
Pieter Brueghel the Elder (Flemish, 1525/30-1569), The Triumph of Death, 1562, wood, (117 x 162 cm), Prado Museum, Madrid. See death.
Giuseppe Arcimboldo (Italian, Milan, 1527-1593), Summer, 1563, oil on limewood, 67 x 50.8 cm, Kunsthistoriches Museum, Vienna. See wood.
Peter Paul Rubens (Flemish, 1577-1640), The Apotheosis of Henry IV and the Proclamation of the Regency of Marie de Médicis (May 14, 1610), 1622-1625, oil on canvas, 3.94 x 7.27 m, Louvre.
Imitator of Anthony Van Dyck (Flemish, 1599-1641, active in Italy and England), Andromeda Chained to the Rock, 1637-38, oil on canvas, 84 3/4 x 52 inches (215.3 x 132.1 cm), Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
Diego Velázquez de Silva (Spanish, 1599-1660), The Luncheon (Three Men at a Table), c. 1617/18, oil on canvas, 43 x 40 inches (108.5 x 102 cm), Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia. The young man on the far right is thought to be a self-portrait of Velazquez. See Baroque.
Jan Miense Molenaer (Dutch, about 1610-1668), The Dentist, 1629, oil on panel, 23 1/8 x 31 9/16 inches (58.8 x 80.1 cm), North Carolina Art Museum, Raleigh.
Lubin Baugin (French, c. 1612 - 1663), Still Life with Chessboard, oil on canvas, 55 x 73 cm, Louvre. This still life might be interpreted as either an allegory of the five senses or of the sacred and the profane.
Attributed to Michiel van Musscher (Dutch, 1645-1705), Allegorical Portrait of an Artist, about 1680-85, oil on canvas, 44 15/16 x 35 7/8 inches (114.2 x 91.0 cm), North Carolina Art Museum, Raleigh. See attribute, easel, and patron.
Massimiliano Soldani (Italian, 1656-1740), Virtue Triumphant over Vice, bronze, height 11 3/4 inches (29.8 cm), Frick Collection, NY.
Giambattista Tiepolo (Italian, 1696-1770), Maecenas Presenting the Liberal Arts to Emperor Augustus, c. 1745, oil on canvas, 27 x 35 inches (69.5 x 89 cm), Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia.
François Boucher (French, 1703-1770), Allegory of Music, 1752, oil on canvas, 26 1/2 x 30 inches (67.3 x 76.2 cm), North Carolina Art Museum, Raleigh. See music and Rococo.
Benjamin West (American, 1738-1820, active in England), Cymon and Iphigenia, 1773, oil on canvas, 50 x 63 1/8 inches (127 x 160.3 cm), Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
Edward Hicks (American, 1780-1849), The Peaceable Kingdom, c. 1833, oil on canvas, Worcester Art Museum, MA. See folk art.
Thomas Cole (English, 1801-48, active in the US), L'Allegro, 1845, oil on canvas, 32 1/8 x 47 7/8 inches (81.6 x 121.6 cm), Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
Oscar Rejlander (Swedish-English, 1813-1875), Hard Times, 1860, albumen print,13.9 x 19.9 cm, George Eastman House, Rochester, NY. Rejlander was an innovator in creating allegorical multiphoto compositions beginning in 1857.
Gustave Courbet (French, 1819-1877), The Painter's Studio, A Real Allegory, 1855, oil on canvas, 11 feet 10 1/4 inches x 19 feet 7 1/2 inches (361 x 598 cm), Musée d'Orsay, Paris.
James Ensor (Belgian, Ostend, 1860-1949), Christ's Entry into Brussels in 1889, 1888, oil on canvas, 99 1/2 x 169 1/2 inches (252.5 x 430.5 cm), J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu, CA. See Expressionism.
Also see mirror, narrative art, and statue.