Allegory of Justice - Giorgio Vasari. 1546
This canvas can be viewed for hours, it is so complicated, confused and filled with symbols this extremely elaborate multi-figure composition. In its center is a figure of a woman with bare breasts - a symbolic image of Themis, the goddess of justice, who has nothing to hide or be ashamed of.
This woman is dressed in a very original outfit that has something in common with the warrior's vestments - high sandals resemble leggings, a headdress is a lavishly decorated helmet, and chains come from a belt to which many figures are confined at the feet of Themis. These people trampled by her are punished criminals, men and women, languishing under the burden of their sins.
Themis is not only a symbol of justice, it is surrounded on all sides by complex, sometimes doubly interpreted symbols. With one hand she rests on a huge bird - an ostrich, a symbol of avoiding problems. In the same hand she holds a thin rod crowned with a golden figure of a lion - it is rather a scepter, a symbol of her power over all people. With the other hand, Themis crowns a young girl with doves in her hands - it can be a symbol of Innocence, an innocent victim, or triumphant Justice. (“Let the wreath be given to merit before the mirror of Themis ...”, V. A. Zhukovsky, “Happiness”). At the same time, a pair of pigeons denotes marital fidelity and love.
The figure of a gray-bearded old man standing behind Themis is even more interesting. He has wings on his head, which means soul, vitality and supernatural wisdom. Well, the trinity of the ubiquitous “putti” complements this complex, but very interesting and unusual picture.