Plate 3 from the series The Seven Virtues
Philips Galle, Flemish, 1537 - 1612. After a drawing of 1559 by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Netherlandish (active Antwerp and Brussels), c. 1525 - 1569. Published by Hieronymus Cock, Netherlandish, c. 1510 - 1570.
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This engraving shows all seven acts of mercy in one large scene. Reading clockwise from top center: the dead are buried in a churchyard; strangers are welcomed at a doorway; the sick are visited in bed; the naked are clothed; the hungry are fed; the thirsty are given drink; and prisoners are visited in the stocks. In the center of the foreground stands the figure of Charity. The pelican on her head symbolizes self-sacrifice, as pelicans were believed to nourish their young with their own blood. God’s special love of Charity is indicated by the burning heart in her hand.