Crucifixion and the Virtues win the Battle against the Vices (Crucifixión y las Virtudes ganan la batalla a los Vicios)

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Crucifixion and the Virtues win the Battle against the Vices (Crucifixión y las Virtudes ganan la batalla a los Vicios)
This tapestry represents the battle between Vices and Virtues, with the latter winning thanks to the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. This seventh piece in the series is exhibited in the chapel of St Anne, or of the Conception, erected in the late 15th century by Juan and Simón de Colonia as the burial place for Bishop Luis de Acuña, opposite to the magnificent altar made by Gil de Siloé. The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco displays a replica of this tapestry which belonged originally to a collection in Toledo Cathedral.

Vices surrendered to Virtues

This, the seventh tapestry in the cycle, narrates the battle in which Vices are defeated by Virtues thanks to the sacrifice of Christ in the cross, which makes the redemption of Man possible. Two heralds announce the end of the battle: the one on the left, on top of Sinai “Mons Sinay”, with the Tables of the Law on his pennon in allusion to the Old Testament; the one on the right, on top of Calvary “Mons Caluarie”, shows the chalice indicating the New Testament. Crucifixion, through which a new world is reached and Man is redeemed, takes place in the centre, flanked by two angels.

The largest part of the tapestry is occupied by the battle between the Vices (represented on the right) and the Virtues. In the centre and mounting a unicorn, a symbol of Christ, the Christian knight, miles Christi, spears “Sup[er]bia” ( Pride) followed by other vices: “Ira” (Wrath), “Accidia” (Sloth), “Luxuria” (Lust)... The Virtues, ( “Patientia” (Patience), ( “Castitas” (Chastity), ( “Charitas” (Charity)... either on foot or mounting animals such as a lion, a deer or a donkey, are unarmed but fearless, convinced of their triumph owing to the sacrifice of Christ.


The phylacteries of the angels read “Pangelingua” and “gloriosipraeliumcertaminis”, a hymn celebrating transubstantiation, that is, redemption thanks to the sacrifice of Christ. Two prophets, Isaiah and Zechariah, each carry inscriptions which read IPSE VENIT ET SALUABIT VOS ISAIS (he will come to save you, Isaiah 35, 4), and on the right HIS PLAGATUS SUM ISAIS XIII (Zechariah 13, 6), a text which is supposed to be the answer to: "What are these wounds on your body?" He will answer, "The wounds I was given at the house of my friends".

Series Redemption of Man or Vices and Virtues

Seventh tapestry in the series (first of those kept in Burgos)

Manufacture Brussels, c. 1510

Fabric Silk and wool, 7 warps per cm

Size c. 420 x 798 cm

Location Cathedral of Burgos

Origin A bequest to the cathedral in 1526 by Bishop Juan Rodríguez de Fonseca


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