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An Allegory of the Old and New Testaments early 1530s


The images and inscriptions provide a painted sermon. The central theme, encouraged by the Reformation, is the contrast between the unforgiving Old Testament Law (LEX) on the left, and the forgiving Grace of the New Testament (GRATIA) at the right. Man (HOMO)'s failure to obey the commandments God gave to Moses, led to sin (PECCATUM) and death (MORS - the skeleton). However, man is forgiven and achieves salvation (VICTORIA NOSTRA) through Christ's Crucifixion and Resurrection. Man sits between the Old Testament prophet Isaiah and St John the Baptist, who points the way forward to Christ 'the Lamb of God' (AGNUS DEI).

Glossary Open


Where the ‘story’ of a work has a deeper underlying meaning – often used for the representation of grand, abstract ideas.


Text written on a book, document or artwork. Examples include the added information such as edition number and date on a print, or a dedication written in a book.


A 16th century movement that sought reform of the Roman Catholic Church. It was led by figures such as Martin Luther and John Calvin who saw the church as increasingly corrupt and moving away from Christian principles. It resulted in the establishment of the Protestant denominations.

Allegory, Inscription, Reformation


  • Acc. No. NG 2407
  • Medium Oil on panel
  • Size (framed: 64.20 x 74.20 x 6.40 cm)
  • Credit Purchased by Private Treaty with the aid of the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the National Heritage Purchase Grant (Scotland) 1981