This refined Mannerist depiction is a piece by an anonymous master whose graphic technique and stylistic orientation developed under the influence of the great Dutch engravers of the Haarlem school (Hendrick Goltzius and his circle). It dates roughly to the turn of the century when late-Mannerist stylistic trends across Europe merged into a unified international style with a sensual and hyper-elegant tendency.
The depicted female figure is a blending of several manifestations of the ancient goddess of fortune or fate, in particular the Greek Rhamnusia (Nemesis) and the Roman Fortuna. Their closeness in meaning first led to an iconographic kinship in the Renaissance, resulting in a loss of subject-specific nuances. Both goddesses are associated with good or ill luck: Fortuna was worshiped in fear of a dark fate and in hope of a lucky course of events and favourable opportunities (kinship with Occasio), and Rhamnusia was feared for her retribution or reckoning for excessive, underserved fortune. Fortune – uncertain and fickle – is depicted on a sphere, keeping her balance on the rough water surface and catching wind into her sail which carries her among restless waves and dangerous reefs.