Remorse as an old woman, turning to face the naked Truth. Botticelli based his figure of Truth on the classical type of the Venus pudica, as well as his own depictions of Venus. She is a naked beauty, an effective opposite to the personification of Remorse, an old, grief-stricken woman in threadbare clothes. Truth, like the innocent youth, is almost naked as she has nothing to conceal. The eloquent gestures and expression of the only towering figure in the painting are pointing up towards heaven, where a higher justice will be meted out.
In a letter of 22 June 1811, written by Friederike Volkmann in Dresden to the psychologist Dr Christian August Heinroth in Leipzig, this painting is described as the pendant to the Winter Landscape now in Schwerin.
The Schwerin painting is characterized by the sombreness of an expanse of snow stretching away into the infinite distance, which modern interpreters see as a symbol of death, a nihilistic sign of doom. The pendant in Dortmund introduces, for the first time in Friedrich's oeuvre, a Gothic church, seen as a monumental vision emerging out of the mist like a phantasmagoria and rising against the gloomy background of a winter sky. Nearer the viewer, a man is leaning back against a boulder and gazing up the crucifix in front of a cluster of young fir trees. He has flung his crutches demonstratively far away from him into the snow. This combination of motifs has been interpreted as a reference to the security of the Christian in his faith.
Suggested listening (streaming mp3, 11 minutes):Vivaldi: Concerto in F minor RV 297 op. 8 No. 4 (Winter)
Venice's climate and environment were unfavourable to fresco paintings, which were easily damaged by damp. This powerful fresco, painted originally for the cloister of the church Santo Stefano, has faded badly.