This early work by Raphael was made in about 1504. The sleeping knight may be intended to represent the Roman hero Scipio Africanus (236 - 184 BC) who was presented in a dream with a choice between Virtue (behind whom is a steep and rocky path) and Pleasure (in looser robes). However, the ladies are not presented as contestants. They may represent the ideal attributes of the knight: the book, sword and flower which they hold suggest the ideals of scholar, soldier and lover which a knight should combine.
A pricked cartoon for the painting is in the British Museum.
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Detail from: An Allegory ('Vision of a Knight')
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