exemplum virtutis

(Latin: “example of virtue”).  An model of virtuous behavior worthy of emulation. Neoclassical artists depicted exempla virtutis (pl.) from ancient history as uplifting moral messages for the art-viewing public.

Kauffman CorneliaAngelica Kauffmann. Cornelia, Mother of the Gracchi, Pointing to her Children as Her Treasures. Oil on canvas, Ca. 1785. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond.