Allegorical sculpture refers to sculptures that symbolize and particularly personify abstract ideas.

Common in the Western world, for example, are statues of 'Justice': a female figure traditionally holding scales in one hand, as a symbol of her weighing issues and arguments, and a Sword of Justice in the other. She also wears a blindfold to represent her impartiality. This approach of using human form, posture, gesture and clothing to convey social values may be seen in funerary art as early as 1580. They were used in Renaissance monuments when patron saints became unacceptable. Particularly popular were the Four cardinal virtues and the Three Christian virtues, but others such as fame, victory and time are also represented. Allegorical sculptures fully developed under the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. It is usually associated with Victorian art, and is most commonly found in works from around 1900.

Notable allegorical sculptures

  • The Statue of Liberty
  • The figures of the four continents and four arts and sciences surrounding the Albert Memorial in Kensington Gardens.
  • Statue of Justice on the Old Bailey in London.
  • The Four cardinal virtues, by Maximilian Colt, on the monument to Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury in Bishop's Hatfield Church in the English county of Hertfordshire.
  • In Pan-American Exposition of 1901 in Buffalo, New York had an extensive scheme of allegorical sculpture programmed by Karl Bitter.
  • The allegorical group on top of Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan, carved by the French sculptor Jules Felix Couton in 1912, represents the Roman gods, Hercules (strength), Mercury (speed) and Minerva (wisdom), and collectively represents 'Transportation'.


  1. ↑ Plato and B. Jowett, Plato's The Republic. New York: The Modern library, 1941, OCLC: 964319
  2. ↑ Plato and P. Shorey, The Republic. London: W. Heinemann, ltd., 1930.
  3. ↑ Phaedrus by Plato, Project Gutenberg. Retrieved May 9, 2008.
  4. ↑ Republic, Classic technology center, AbleMedia. Retrieved May 9, 2008.


  • Chaucer, Geoffrey. Lyric and Allegory. The Poetry bookshelf. New York: Barnes & Noble, 1971. ISBN 0389040711 ISBN 9780389040712
  • English Institute, and Stephen Greenblatt. Allegory and Representation. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1981. ISBN 080182642X ISBN 9780801826429
  • Fletcher, Angus. Allegory, The Theory of a Symbolic Mode. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1964.
  • Frye, Northrop. 1957. Anatomy of Criticism. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
  • Langmuir, Erika. Allegory. London: National Gallery Publications, 1997. ISBN 1857091663 ISBN 9781857091663 ISBN 0300073208 ISBN 9780300073201
  • MacQueen, John. Allegory. The Critical idiom, 14. London: Methuen, 1970. ISBN 0416080405 ISBN 9780416080407
  • Whitman, Jon. Interpretation and Allegory Antiquity to the Modern Period. Brill's studies in intellectual history, v. 101. Leiden: Brill, 2000. ISBN 1417536500 ISBN 9781417536504

External links

All links retrieved March 8, 2016.

  • Good brief definition of Allegory
  • Allegory in Literary history Dictionary of the History of Ideas.