Pompeo Batoni’s ‘Peace and War’ and the Gift of Peace

Reaching within: What traditional art offers the heart

A detail from “Allegory of Peace and War,” 1776, by Pompeo Batoni. Oil on Canvas. Art Institute of Chicago. (Public Domain)

The allegorical painting of Italian 18th-century artist Pompeo Batoni reflects a much-needed understanding of the relationship between peace and war for a contemporary audience. In “Allegory of Peace and War,” Batoni depicts symbolic representations of Peace as feminine, soft, and graceful; and War as masculine, strong, and fierce. It is the nature of their communication that is the most interesting.

The Chimera on a Apulian plate, circa 350–340 B.C. (Musée du Lou