Before us is a bizarre allegory. Scientists believe that this is part of the diptych. The painter borrowed a theme from a poem by a famous Roman poet. Before us is the first picture. Rafael portrays a hero who needs to make the right choice. He needs to decide what is more important: pleasure or virtue
We see that the knight sleeps a heroic sleep under a laurel tree. It divides the picture into two parts. On each side, the artist depicts a woman. On the left side of the canvas we see a bright personification of the true virtue. In her hands – traditional items: a permanent book and a sharp sword. On the right side of the canvas, we see the personification of true Delight. She gives the knight a flower, which is a true symbol of love.
The artist sought to fill this work with a very deep meaning: the knight must balance both of these principles in his life.
The painter manages to convey the differences in the characters of women with the help of their appearance and certain clothes. We see how strictly virtue is dressed. Her head is covered. On the figure of Delight there is a fashionable dress of elegant style. Her hair is playfully dissolved and coquettishly decorated with a magnificent flower and magnificent beads.
Virtue proposed a difficult path. We see it against the backdrop of hills and a castle with peaked peaks. You can get into it through the bridge. Delight on the contrary is depicted by an incredibly soft landscape leading directly to a wonderful sunlit lake.
We do not feel that these two women are competing with each other. The artist shows that Virtue and Delight have absolutely equal chances. We do not feel that the vision becomes for the hero some acute moral choice. The ideal knight should combine all these qualities.
At first, Raphael wanted to portray Delight as a seductress. This can only be seen on the sketch. But on the canvas she is dressed quite modestly. She is a reward to a real knight.