Taken from Bruegel’s series of “The World of Seven Virtues,” Hope is personified here as the unshakeable figure amidst a sea of torment and a world of despair. She stands courageously, looking on, with a beehive atop her head, a scythe in one hand, and a shovel in the other. These three tools symbolize some of the most dangerous professions of men and those who are in need of Hope the most.
Created c. 1560, Hope features the following inscription in the lower margin: IVCVNDISSIMA EST SPEI PERSVASIO, ET VITAE IMPRIMIS NECESSARIA, INTER TOT AERVMNAS PENQ INTOLERABILES (The assurance that hope gives us is most pleasant and most essential to an existence amid so many nearly insupportable woes) . The signature of Bruegel is inscribed in cartouche in the lower left: ‘BRVGEL. INV.’ With ‘H. cock excu.’ in cartouche in the lower right. The latin, SPES (Hope) is also inscribed in cartouche in the lower center. A lifetime impression from the only state of two by Philips Galle based on an original work by Pieter Bruegel featuring the inscribed text plate along the lower margin on watermarked paper dating the piece to c. 1559 – 1591 (Gothic P with Flower, Br. 8715 - 8723) .