Allegory of Fortune

Object Details


Allegory of Fortune


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




Italy (Place created)


about 1530


Oil on canvas


179.1 x 217.2 cm (70 1/2 x 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.

- 1624

Possibly Cardinal Alessandro d'Este, 1568 - 1624 (Modena, Italy)

Litta Collection (Milan, Italy)

- 1989

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


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

"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
Related Media
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    Audio: An Allegory of Fortune