Fortuna och virtus i konsten

 
 

Fortune
c. 1505
Black ink on paper, 259 x 165 mm
Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg

The signature of Dürer at the bottom is contemporary but fake.

 
 

Fortune's wheel

Coëtivy Master, illuminator; Boethius, author; Jean de Meun, translator
French, Paris, about 1460 - 1470
Tempera colors, gold leaf, gold paint, and ink on parchment
MS. 42

 
 

Boethius: De consolation philosophiae

Coëtivy Master
French, Paris, about 1460 - 1470
Tempera colors, gold leaf, and gold paint on parchment
2 7/8 x 6 11/16 in.
MS. 42, LEAF 1V


At the left, Philosophy, personified as a fashionably dressed young woman, visits Boethius, who had lost his exalted position as Roman envoy. She asks him why he is despondent, saying,"you are wrong if you think that Fortune has changed towards you. Change is her normal behavior." On the right, Fortune, a beautiful woman, spins her wheel, which represents the changes she brings about in men's lives. A king sits on top of the wheel, but a simple turn of the wheel can bring him down in station while it raises the fortunes of another. Philosophy demonstrates that Fortune rules the world and that the wise person ignores her ever-shifting ways, preferring eternal truths.

 
 

Boethius: De consolation philosophiae

Coëtivy Master
French, Paris, about 1460 - 1470
Tempera colors, gold leaf, and gold paint on parchment
2 3/4 x 6 11/16 in.
MS. 42, LEAF 3


This cutting probably accompanied the final chapter of Boethius's The Consolation of Philosophy, where Boethius and Philosophy, personified as an elegant woman, discuss the nature of God. God appears above in a brilliantly colored, glowing aureole surrounded by cherubim and seraphim. This God, depicted as an elderly man, holds an orb in his left hand that symbolizes his dominion over the earth while offering a sign of blessing with his right. The text that once accompanied this image explained that, "God has foreknowledge and rests a spectator from on high. . . . the ever-present eternity of his Vision dispenses reward to the good and punishment to the bad."