This is a great near-twin for the box Marco posted about last year... with excellent pictures.
Winged Temperance - XV Centuryhttp://www.tarotforum.net/showthread.php?t=107183
He posted the image here.
His is in Milan, yours in in Oxford, but both are from the Embriachi workshop, 15th century.
Regarding my own view of winged virtues, as usual, it depends on the context. In some works, all the theological virtues are winged and the classical virtues are not. The significance of that should be obvious but, if not, it can be found in Aquinas (and elsewhere). The theological virtues have God as their object and are infused from God rather than being merely practiced habit. The wings suggest that iconographically.
In some works, all the classical virtues are winged, as in the Embriachi boxes. This is little more than an artistic preference, although it can certainly be defended. In some works, however, like the Tarot trumps in Tarot de Marseille, only the highest-ranking virtue is winged. Like Ross, this is an old discussion for me and I'll have to look up some notes to provide examples. As I recall, Giotto provides one such example.
As part of that old discussion, the earliest Italian (ancient Roman) example of winged Temperance is Nike. Seriously. One of her conventional depictions was as wine-bearer to victors, in which capacity she carried one or two vessels. The krater was used specifically to mix water with wine -- to temper it -- before drinking. This is not only a Pagan tradition, not only the literal fact underlying the metaphorical symbolism of Temperance, but also the same practice used in the Eucharist where water is mixed with wine for reasons of Christian symbolism. (The water and blood which poured from Christ's side, symbolizing his human and divine nature, etc.)
The significance of this for Tarot is not merely the existence of an ancient Pagan example, but the appropriateness of Nike triumphing over Death. This too was an ancient topos, but an ancient Christian one. Nike was used as a Christian psychopomp in funerary art, based on a passage from St. Paul: In 1 Corinthians he quotes Isaiah: "Death has been swallowed up in victory", and that was a well-known motif. Of course, the winged figure naturally suggests a psychopomp, by analogy with both Mercury and angels, as well as Nike -- Victory.
So the analogy between Tarot de Marseille's Temperance and Nike resonates in terms of the literal meaning, mixing water with wine, and also in terms of the triumph over Death. That latter connection derives from the generic psychopomp motif, the specific Nike "Death has been swallowed up" motif, and the specific fact that the sacraments are the orthodox Christian means by which triumph over Death is achieved.
Well, that's the short version, anyway.
JMD -- cool picture! Was it part of a pair, or group of images? As Edgar Wind noted, “of the many historical disfigurations to which Renaissance art has been subjected, one of the saddest is that pictures which were conceived in a cyclical spirit have come down to us as solitary paintings.”
We are either dwarfs standing on the shoulders of giants, or we are just dwarfs.