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Found at a flea market and purchased for a modest sum by an anonymous buyer, the 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.

Dosso is well known for engaging with complex allegorical subjects, which are rife with symbolism. While a single interpretation of the painting’s subject has not been settled upon, 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 to show that her favors are often fleeting and could vanish in an instant. The billowing drapery is a reminder that she is changeable like the wind. Her single shoe symbolizes her capacity to bestow 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, an allusion 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 (1474 – 1539). One of her emblems was a bundle of lots, denoting her personal experience of fluctuating fortune.

Details

  • Title: Allegory of Fortune (Framed)
  • Creator: Dosso Dossi (Giovanni di Niccolò de Lutero)
  • Date Created: about 1530
  • Location Created: Italy
  • Physical Dimensions: 181.3 × 194.9 cm (71 3/8 × 76 3/4 in.)
  • Type: Painting
  • External Link: Find out more about this object on the Museum website.
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Terms of Use: Open Content
  • Number: 89.PA.32
  • Culture: Italian
  • Credit Line: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
  • Creator Display Name: Dosso Dossi (Giovanni di Niccolò de Lutero) (Italian (Ferrarese), about 1490 - 1542)
  • Classification: Paintings (Visual Works)

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