- Museum number
The Wheel of Fortune; a hand holding a rope in clouds upper left controls the rotation of a wheel, to which four figures cling. 1519
Pen and black ink with coloured wash
- Production date
Height: 206 millimetres
Width: 158 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- Lit: R. Schilling (ed) 'Die von Edmund Schilling gesammelten Zeichnungen', published privately, Edgware, 1982, p.67, no.26; J. Rowlands 'German Drawings from a private collection', exh.cat London and Nuremberg, 1984, p.39, no.34; J. Rowlands, Age of Dürer and Holbein, no. 176
Design connected with Petrarch's 'Von der Artzney bayder Glück', Steyner, Augsburg, 1532.
Rowlands & Bartrum, The Age of Dürer and Holbein 1988
Literature: M.Lossnitzer, 'Archiv.f. Kunstgesch.', iii, 1913, pl.34; E. Buchner, in 'Festschrift Heinrich Wölfflin', Munich, 1924, pp.221ff.; Th.Musper, 'OMD', viii, 1933, p.31; Halm, 'Deutsche Zeichn.', p.44, no.96, repr.; Schilling, 'Gesamm. Zeichn.', p.67, no.26, repr.; Rowlands, 'Private Collection', p.39, no.34, repr.
This drawing is undoubtedly connected with three differing woodcuts of the 'Wheel of Fortune' which Weiditz made for a German edition of Petrarch's 'Von den Artzney bayder Glück', published by Heynrich Steyner, in Augsburg, 1532. This drawing was most probably executed about the same time as Weiditz was working on the designs for the woodcuts, works as rich in imaginative fire as they are brilliant in technique, which were evidently completed in 1520, as the last of them bears that date.
The representation of the changes of fortune by a wheel, the rotation of which symbolises the rise and fall of men, especially of kings, has a long history. It first appeared c.1100 in manuscripts of Boethius, but perhaps the most notable earlier medieval example, is the drawing of c. 1175/90, 'Fortune turning the Wheel of Fortune' in the 'Hortus deliciarum', of Herrad von Landsberg (formerly Strassburg City Library). The subject occurs in various media throughout the Middle Ages and into the Renaissance. The fifteenth century sees the introduction, as an occasional feature representing the arbitrary nature of Fortune, either Fortune blindfold, or the hand of God in the clouds, as in the present drawing (see 'Lexikon der christ. Ikonog.', iii, 1971, cols.492-4). In the woodcut of the same subject of c.1534, by Georg Pencz (q.v.), both motifs are shown: the hand of God protrudes from a cloud and controls with a rein a blindfold figure of Fortune who turns the wheel (Landau, 'Pencz', p.167, no. 146, repr.).
Michael Venator (email April 2021) noted that a pen copy after this was offered for sale at Kiefer Buch und Kunstauktion, 7 May 2021 (Auction 118), lot 2113.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1984 Feb-Sept, London, Washington and Nuremberg, German Drawings, no.36
1988 July-Oct BM Age of Dürer and Holbein, no.176
1997-8 Sept-Jan BM Schilling
- Associated titles
Associated Title: Von der Artzney bayder Glück, des guten und widerwärtigen
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- In 1997, the Museum acquired on the death of Mrs Rosi Schilling the majority of a collection of mostly northern Old Master drawings assembled by her late husband the curator and later drawings dealer and adviser, Edmund Schilling (1888-1974). Schilling was born in Germany and came to Britain in 1937 after the rise of the Nazis. He was prominent as a specialist in German Old Master drawings and his widow’s bequest in his memory was predominantly made up of studies that he had collected in this field. Given its importance, the Museum accepted the bequest for public benefit in good faith, and has afterwards researched its history, insofar as it has been able. There remain however many works in the bequest with uncertain or incomplete provenance for the years 1933-45 and the Museum welcomes information and assistance in the investigation and clarification of the provenance of these works during that era.
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number