Richard Greathouse [JR NRP 2021] : Study for allegory : truth and wisdom, 2021.


SAL record control number: 103342 ;

Record level: Item ;

Record type: Movable work ;


Work title: Study for allegory : truth and wisdom  [from artist] ;

Alternate work titles:
2021 : Study for allegory : truth and wisdom  [from artist] ;

Work date: 2021  [from artist] ;

Work creator: Richard Greathouse [JR NRP 2021] ;

Work medium: Oil on canvas ;
Work dimensions: 20 x 18 inches [framed] ;

Inscribed / signed front:
Location: At lower left.
Dated?: No.
Text: ‘RHG’.


SAL category: Oil ;
SAL sub-category: Allegory ; genre ;

Archives of American Art subjects:

Description of work:
Allegory of Truth and Wisdom

Proposal by Richard Greathouse for the Library Doors at the Salmagundi Club

Seeing as these doors lead into a space of learning, I thought that it would be appropriate to use an allegory that focuses on the concepts of Truth and Wisdom, as many who seek knowledge will endeavor to partake of one or the other, if not both. In general terms, the interactions between Truth and Wisdom could be summarized thus: The Wise know to seek Truth, but also know that Truth can never be beheld in its entirety. The Wise are content in this fact, yet they still receive succor from the parts of itself which Truth allows to come forth. The Wise know not to be fooled by false truths which may present themselves fully, which are appealing yet ephemeral. In turn, the small pieces of Truth which do trickle their way into the hands of the Wise are gathered, shared, and passed on, waiting for those who would also partake and thus continue the cycle. Wisdom may pass with the individual and be regained by those who follow, but the Truth from which they all drink is eternally the same.

Description of the composition:
The figure of Truth, occupying the left panel, stands upright and alone, facing out toward the viewer. Her upraised arm obscures her eyes, so that we cannot see them. Like the viewer, the figure of Wisdom, who is the seated figure in the right panel, gazes into the face of Truth, without seeing her eyes.

At the foot of Truth, a vessel of water pours forth into the stream which flows across both panels. Wisdom holds a smaller vessel, having gathered in it water from the stream. A youth leans over Wisdom’s shoulder, looking to Wisdom for sustenance from the vessel.

Wisdom rests contently, with eyes fixed upon Truth, while dipping his toe into the stream.

Truth holds in her left hand a burning torch, symbolizing the false truths which burn and turn to smoke. The smoke is ephemeral and is carried upon the wind in ever which direction, bearing no agency of its own. This stands in contrast to the water that pours forth from the larger vessel below and merges with the stream, slowly etching its own path into the earth.

A long-haired figure stands behind Wisdom, gazing up at the smoke and gesturing her hand towards it, as if enthralled. With her back turned towards both Wisdom and the viewer, she ignores the figure of Truth, choosing instead to follow the trails of smoke as they scatter upon the wind.

2021 Richard Greathouse [JR NRP 2021], the artist .

Exhibition history:
2021 SCNY Allegory today : the library commission November 8-19.

References / citations:



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Record birth date:
November 1, 2021

Last updated: November 1, 2021 at 16:47 pm