Louis Chéron, 2 Sep 1660 - 26 May 1725


Louis Chéron 2 Sep 1660 - 26 May 1725


This is a sketch for a ceiling design, one of a set of three in the collection of Manchester Art Gallery. The building for which the designs were made has not been identified, but it seems likely that there was once a fourth design, as each of Manchester’s three works probably represents one of the cardinal virtues. These are the fundamental good qualities identified from ancient Greek philosophy onwards as prudence, fortitude, temperance and justice. Temperance is Manchester’s missing virtue. Together with its two companions, this sketch had been thought of as being by James Thornhill (1635-1734) since 1964, when it was acquired by the gallery. This attribution was questionable, as the work displays none of the smooth pictorial qualities that characterised English preparatory studies in Thornhill’s time. The current attribution was confirmed by an exhibition of Chéron's work curated by François Marandet at the Musée des Beaux Arts, Caen, in 2021-22. Chéron’s distinctive style can be recognised here, especially in the figure of Truth: she looks as if she were modelled from wax. She is the female nude, seated triumphally in the centre, holding a glinting mirror. Behind her cloud is the bearded figure of Time, who holds the scythe with which he is traditionally furnished. Justice is the crowned figure at the front, slightly left of centre. She holds a scale, and a sword rests by her knee. The nude female figure to the right of Justice is possibly occupied in wielding a flame to fight off figures representing vice. ‘Time, Truth and Justice’ was the title given to this painting until 2021. Louis Chéron was born in Paris in 1655. From 1678 he lived in Italy for six years, learning his craft initially at the French Academy in Rome. Following the repeal of the Edict of Nantes, which had protected Protestants in Catholic France, he left for England in 1693, where for thirty years he was a Huguenot at the centre of the London art scene. He taught drawing and copying in the style of the school of Rome at the art academy on Great Queen Street. Later, he became one of the founders of the art school known as the first St Martin’s Lane Academy, where William Hogarth (1697-1764) was a pupil. Very few easel paintings by Chéron now exist, as he concentrated on fine drawings and wall paintings. One of his impressive decorative schemes can still be seen at Boughton House in Northamptonshire.

Object Name


Creators Name

Louis Chéron

Date Created



unframed: 24.5cm x 48.5cm
framed: 36.2cm x 59.2cm

accession number


Place of creation





oil paint


© Manchester Art Gallery

Fill out my online form.