Definition of virtu in English:


(also vertu)


  • 1Knowledge of or expertise in the fine arts.

    1. 1.1Curios or objets d'art collectively.
  • 2literary The good qualities inherent in a person or thing.

    • ‘This, then, is the sign of virtu in rulers and citizens alike: each must be prepared to advance not his own interests but the general good, not his own posterity but the common fatherland.’
    • ‘Sothely as a man goynge fer in pilgrimage, clepide his seruauntis, and bitoke to hem his goodis; And to oon he aue fyue talentis, forsothe to an other two, but to an other oon, to eche after his owne vertu; and went forth anoon.’
    • ‘Even in a civil republic, leaders would emerge who had the quality of virtu, who could negotiate with fortune, and who understood political necessity.’
    • ‘Cavendish is appropriating Machiavellian virtu as a female as well as male quality.’
    • ‘He singles out two essential methods of organizing home affairs in such a way as to instil the quality of virtu in the whole body of the citizens.’


  • article (or object) of virtu

    • An article that is interesting because of its antiquity, beauty, quality of workmanship, etc.

      • ‘These may be divided into three sometimes overlapping categories: relics, souvenirs, and objects of (sometimes easy) virtu.’
      • ‘Here he assembled a large but indifferent collection of objects of virtu, prints, and curiosities, several of which were purchased in Italy by Mann, which attracted fashionable attention.’
      • ‘Queen Charlotte was hardly mentioned, even though she was an avid collector of gems, natural history specimens and objets de vertu.’
      • ‘The paintings hung in a small cabinet in which were also located a number of antiquities and objets de vertu, in a heterogeneous arrangement like that of a wonder collection.’
      • ‘Post's financial resources enabled her to purchase works of primarily French and Russian origin in a wide variety of categories including furniture, porcelain, glass, textiles, and objets de vertu.’


Early 18th century: from Italian virtù virtue; the variant vertu is an alteration, as if from French.