The Little Fortune

c. 1497
Location: not on view
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With the help of a staff, Fortuna, the goddess of fortune or chance, balances on a sphere and holds a sprig of flowers in her left hand. In addition to representing her instability, the sphere suggests the worldly domain over which she influences at random. The flowers, traditionally identified as Eryngium, held aphrodisiac powers, suggesting the fickle nature of love. A more recent interpretation identifies them as Sternkraut, a plant that symbolized the idea that one’s fate has already been written. Both readings of the engraving, whether it regards love or life, inform the viewer that destiny is not of one’s own choosing.
The Little Fortune

The Little Fortune

c. 1497

Albrecht Dürer

(German, 1471–1528)
Germany, late 15th-early 16th Century

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