Dose of Art #174: Titian – Allegory of Prudence (c. 1565–1570)

EX PRAETERITO/PRAESENS PRUDENTER AGIT/NE FUTURA ACTIONẼ DETURPET reads the (barely visible) inscription: “From the experience of the past, the present acts prudently, lest it spoils future actions”. Together with the images of a young, middle-aged and old man this inscription would make the meaning of the allegory clear. But it isn’t; where do the heads of a wolf, a lion and a dog fit in? As always there have been many different interpretations over time, but not of them definite (see this link for a good oversight). This is a common problem with older paintings involving allegories; they are of time and culture-bound which makes it hard for us to interpret them unless an explanation from a contemporary exists.