Logic between Vice and Virtue, by Pietro Liberi (1605-1687).

Oil on canvas, 150cm by 136.5cm.

The painting was purchased in Venice by John, 5th Earl of Exeter (1648-1700) whilst on the Grand Tour.

His Steward, Culpepper Tanner in his accounts of 1684 recorded the purchase of the painting with five others by Liberi.

Liberi who was to become one of the earl’s favourite artists, was sometimes known as ‘il Libertino’ due to his frequent choice of salacious themes in his work and his preference for naked, or scantily clad female subjects.

The early years of the Paduan-born Liberi’s life were extremely adventurous, including his capture and subsequent bondage at the hands of Tunisian pirates and a period fighting the Saracens as a mercenary for the Duke of Tuscany.

Once painting became his main focus, he was active mainly in Venice and the Veneto, working extensively for the Doge Francesco Molino.


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