Allegory of Fortune

Object Details

Title:

Allegory of Fortune

Artist/Maker:

Dosso Dossi (Giovanni di Niccolò de Lutero) (Italian (Ferrarese), about 1490 - 1542)

Culture:

Italian

Place:

Italy (Place created)

Date:

about 1530

Medium:

Oil on canvas

Dimensions:

179.1 × 217.2 cm (70 1/2 × 85 1/2 in.)

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Found at a flea market and purchased for a modest sum by an anonymous buyer, the unwrapped, seven-foot Allegory of Fortune was strapped to the roof of a car and brought to Christie's auction house in New York City. There experts recognized it as an important, long-lost allegorical scene by the Ferrarese master Dosso Dossi.

While the painting's precise meaning remains a mystery, Dosso's message seems to be that prosperity in life is transitory and dependent on luck. The nude woman represents Fortune, or Lady Luck. She holds a cornucopia, flaunting the bounty that she could bring, but sits on a bubble because her favors are often fleeting. The billowing drapery is a reminder that she is changeable like the wind. Her single shoe symbolizes her ability to bring not only fortune but also misfortune.

The man on the left personifies chance. He looks over at Fortune and holds up a stack of lottery tickets, which he is about to place inside a golden urn, a timely reference to the civic lotteries that had just become popular in Italy. The tickets may also refer to the painting's probable patron, Isabella d'Este, Marchioness of Mantua. One of her emblems was a bundle of lots, denoting her personal experience with fluctuating fortune.

Provenance
- 1624

Possibly Cardinal Alessandro d'Este, 1568 - 1624 (Modena, Italy)
Source: G. Campori, Raccolta di cataloghi ed inventarii inediti (1870), p. 62; possibly same as "Fortuna" by Dosso recorded in 1624 inventory.

-

Litta Collection (Milan, Italy)
Source: Inventory label on back.

- 1989

Private Collection (New England) [sold, Christie's, New York, January 11, 1989, lot 192, to Hazlitt, Gooden and Fox Ltd., London.]

1989

Hazlitt, Gooden & Fox Ltd., sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1989.

Exhibitions
"La prima donna del mondo": Isabella d'Este, Fürstin und Mäzenatin der Renaissance (February 13 to May 24, 1994)
  • Kunsthistorisches Museum (Vienna), February 13 to May 24, 1994
Dosso Dossi: Pittore di corte a Ferrara nel Rinascimento / Dosso Dossi: Court Painter in Renaissance Ferrara (September 26, 1998 to July 11, 1999) (Cat. 41)
  • Civiche Gallerie d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Ferrara, September 26 to December 14, 1998
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), January 14 to March 28, 1999
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), April 27 to July 11, 1999
Bibliography

Christie's Review of the Season (1989) p. 26, ill.

Christie's, New York. Important Paintings by Old Masters. January 11, 1989 pp. 240-41, lot 192, ill.

Bower, N. W., D. C. Stulik, and E. Doehne. "A Critical Evaluation of the Environmental Scanning Electron Microscope for the Analysis of Paint Fragments in Art Conservation." Fresenius' Journal of Analytical Chemistry 348 (1994) pp. 402-10, figs. 1C, D, 1D.

Del Bravo, Carlo. "L'equicola e il Dosso." Artibus et historiae 15, no. 30 (1994) p. 77.

Ferino-Pagden, Sylvia. "La prima donna del mondo": Isabella d'Este, Fürstin und Mäzenatin der Renaissance, exh. cat. (Vienna: Kunsthistorisches Museum, 1994) pp. 420-25, no. 144.

Fletcher, Jennifer M. Review of "La prima donna del mondo": Isabella d'Este, Fürstin und Mäzenatin der Renaissance. Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna. The Burlington Magazine 136, no. 1095 (June 1994) p. 398.

Fredericksen, Burton B., et al. Masterpieces of Painting in the J. Paul Getty Museum. 3rd ed. (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1995) unpaginated, no. 7, ill., entry by Dawson Carr.

Jaffé, David. Summary Catalogue of European Paintings in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997) p. 35, ill.

Bordeaux, Jean-Luc. "Sur le campus du Getty Center." Connaissance des arts no. 545 (June 1997) p. 117, ill.

Fredericksen, Burton B. et al. Masterpieces of the J. Paul Getty Museum: Paintings (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997) pp. 28-29, no. 12, ill., entry by Dawson Carr.

Ciammitti, Luisa. "Dosso as a Storyteller: Reflections on His Mythgological Paintings." In Dosso's Fate: Painting and Court Culture in Renaissance Italy. Luisa Ciammitti et al., eds. (Los Angeles: Getty Research Institute, 1998) pp. 101, fig. 17, 103, 111n50.

Humfrey, Peter, and Mauro Lucco. Dosso Dossi: Court Painter in Renaissance Ferrara, exh. cat. Andrea Bayer, ed. (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, with Harry N. Abrams, 1998) p. 117, under no. 12, entry by Peter Humfrey; p. 158, under no. 25, entry by Peter Humfrey; p. 187, under no. 31, entry by Mauro Lucco; p. 202, under no. 37, entry by Peter Humfrey; pp. 215-18, no. 41, ill., entry by Peter Humfrey; p. 222, under no. 42, entry by Mauro Lucco; p. 228, under no. 43, entry by Peter Humfrey; p. 260, under no. 53, entry by Peter Humfrey.

De Marchi, Andrea. "Dosso versus Leonbruno." In Dosso's Fate: Painting and Court Culture in Renaissance Italy. Luisa Ciammitti et al., eds. (Los Angeles: Getty Research Institute, 1998) pp. 168, 175n48.

Fredericksen, Burton B. "Collecting Dosso: The Trail of Dosso's Paintings from the Late Sixteenth Century Onward." In Dosso's Fate: Painting and Court Culture in Renaissance Italy (Los Angeles: Getty Research Institute, 1998) pp. 370, 389.

Humfrey, Peter. "Dosso Dossi: His Life and Works." In Dosso Dossi: Court Painter in Renaissance Ferrara, exh. cat. Andrea Bayer, ed. (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, with Harry N. Abrams, 1998) p. 14.

Lucco, Mauro. "Fantasy, Wit, Delight: The Art of Dosso Dossi." In Dosso Dossi: Court Painter in Renaissance Ferrara, exh. cat. Andrea Bayer, ed. (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, with Harry N. Abrams, 1998) p. 21.

Rothe, Andrea and Dawson W. Carr. "The Technique of Dosso Dossi: Poetry with Paint." In Dosso Dossi: Court Painter in Renaissance Ferrara, exh. cat. Andrea Bayer, ed. (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, with Harry N. Abrams, 1998) pp. 57, 59-60, 62-63, fig. 36 (detail).

Penny, Nicholas. Review of Dosso Dossi: Court Painter in Renaissance Ferrara. Ferrara, New York, Los Angeles. The Burlington Magazine 141, no. 1153 (April 1999) p. 252, fig. 78.

Vogel, Carol. "Inside Art: [...] A Certain Dosso." The New York Times (January 15, 1999).

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 6th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2001) p. 98, ill.

Allen, Denise, et al. Masterpieces of Painting in the J. Paul Getty Museum. Rev. ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, with Thames & Hudson, 2003) pp. 30-31, no. 13, ill., entry by Dawson Carr.

Prosperetti, Andrea. "Bubbles." Physics of Fluids 16, no. 6 (June 2004) pp. 1852-53, 1863n5, fig. 1.

Cieri Via, Claudia. "Il principe in maschera: I ritratti allegorici di Dosso Dossi." In L'età di Alfonso I e la pittura del Dosso, 2004, Ferrara (Ferrara: Franco Cosimo Panini editore, 2004) pp. 166-7, fig. 54.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 7th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2007) p. 97, ill.

Fiorenza, Giancarlo. Dosso Dossi: Paintings of Myth, Magic, and the Antique (University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2008) pp. 69-70, 152-54, figs. 30, 83 (detail).

Cavicchioli, Sonia. "'Geroglifici del destino': Miti astrologici e immagini del cielo dall'antico al moderno." In Il gioco delle sorti: Miti, astri e figurine, exh. cat. (Modena: Museo della Figurina, with Franco Cosimo Panini, 2010) pp. 22, 35, fig. 4.

Cattani, Claudia. Il monosandalos nell'arte: Un piede nudo e uno calzato; storia, origini e significati (Milan: Fondazione Italo Zetti, 2010) pp. 58-59, fig. 14.

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