Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History



  • Triompho di Fortuna (Triumph of Fortune): Frontispiece (woodcut printed in black and red ink)
    Author: Sigismondo Fanti
    Venice: Agostino Zani for Giacomo Giunta, 1526
    Printed book with woodcut illustrations; 13 3/4 x 9 7/16 x 1 in. (35 x 24 x 2.5 cm)
    Gift of Paul J. Sachs, 1925 (25.7)

    The Triompho di Fortuna was the second illustrated fortune-telling book to appear, after the popular Libro della ventura of Lorenzo Spirito, first published in 1482, had gone through several editions. Fanti's book functions as a game in which the seeker follows cues that lead from figures of Fortune to houses and then to wheels, spheres, and astrologers, the path determined by either a throw of the dice or the time of day at which the book is consulted.

    This elaborate frontispiece is based on a drawing preserved in Christ Church, Oxford, that scholars concur in attributing to the Sienese painter and architect Baldassare Peruzzi (1481–1536), best known for designing the Villa Farnesina in Rome and for decorating many of its rooms with frescoes—including one that represents the horoscope of the villa's patron, Agostino Chigi. The frontispiece suggests that the fortune-telling method contained within the book has its basis in astrology or astronomy—scarcely distinguished at the time—and in chance. The seated astronomer with astrolabe and compass alludes to the use of the stars to foretell the future, while the nude youth holding a die refers to the saying of the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus that time is a boy playing dice. This same juxtaposition of randomness with science is illustrated in the upper half of the design. The strongman who supports the celestial sphere calls to mind the ancient marble statue now known as the Farnese Atlas—then in a fragmentary state in the Del Bufalo collection in Rome—that was renowned as the only representation of the heavens to survive from antiquity. Elsewhere in the book, Atlas, with the globe on his shoulders, is identified as the prince of astrologers. But here the sphere Atlas supports is turned by an angel and a devil—the only reference to a Christian framework controlling events—and the pope seated precariously on top suggests the medieval imagery of the Wheel of Fortune, which capriciously elevates popes, kings, and criminals only to bring them crashing down at whim. The pope's position was indeed precarious when this book was published, a few months prior to the Sack of Rome, and one of the fortunes contained within the book predicts the downfall of the city. Perhaps it is Rome that we see in the background, where a large clock alludes to the measurement of time and to the use of the hour to determine the game's outcome. The Pantheon may have been represented because it was believed to serve an astronomical function in antiquity.

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  • Triompho di Fortuna (Triumph of Fortune): Frontispiece (woodcut printed in black and red ink)
    Author: Sigismondo Fanti
    Venice: Agostino Zani for Giacomo Giunta, 1526
    Printed book with woodcut illustrations; 13 3/4 x 9 7/16 x 1 in. (35 x 24 x 2.5 cm)
    Gift of Paul J. Sachs, 1925 (25.7)

    Triompho di Fortuna (Triumph of Fortune): Signatures a2v and a3 (woodcuts printed in black and red ink)
    Author: Sigismondo Fanti
    Venice: Agostino Zani for Giacomo Giunta, 1526
    Printed book with woodcut illustrations

    13 3/4 x 9 7/16 x 1 in. (35 x 24 x 2.5 cm)
    Gift of Paul J. Sachs, 1925 (25.7)

    The book begins with seventy-two questions, some of a general philosophical or political nature and others more relevant to daily life. Choosing a question, the reader is directed to one of the twelve nude women who symbolize Fortune, each one catching a different wind in her drapery, sails, or hair as she glides over uncertain seas. From there the reader is directed to these stylized representations of Renaissance palaces, bearing the names of twelve of Italy's foremost noble families, and to one of the letters that appears beneath them. The letter indicated instructs the reader to turn to one of the wheels of fortune depicted in subsequent pages.

    Triompho di Fortuna (Triumph of Fortune): Signatures e4v and e5 (woodcuts)
    Author: Sigismondo Fanti
    Venice: Agostino Zani for Giacomo Giunta, 1526
    Printed book with woodcut illustrations

    13 3/4 x 9 7/16 x 1 in. (35 x 24 x 2.5 cm)
    Gift of Paul J. Sachs, 1925 (25.7)

    When the reader reaches the indicated page, a choice must be made between two wheels. The upper one represents all the possible combinations (twenty-one) to result from a throw of the dice, while the lower is bordered by the first twenty-one hours of the day. If no dice are handy—and it's not too late at night—the seeker can turn to the lower wheel and choose the segment that corresponds to the current hour.

    The pages representing wheels are bordered by eight alternating frames containing a series of musicians, astronomers, artists, writers, popes, rulers, and other distinguished figures of the past and present, labeled differently at each appearance. Among the arti

    Triompho di Fortuna (Triumph of Fortune): Signatures e8v and f1 (woodcuts)
    Author: Sigismondo Fanti
    Venice: Agostino Zani for Giacomo Giunta, 1526
    Printed book with woodcut illustrations

    13 3/4 x 9 7/16 x 1 in. (35 x 24 x 2.5 cm)
    Gift of Paul J. Sachs, 1925 (25.7)

    From the wheels of fortune, the reader is directed to a specific city name within a cited sphere. Four different designs alternate as frames for these "spheres," one of which pairs a sculptor at work with an architect, book beneath his arm, who points proudly to a grand building. In the first appearance of this border, shown here at right, the sculptor is identified as Michelangelo and the architect as Vitruvius, the author of the only treatise on architecture surviving from antiquity.

    The central medallions change with every page. Here we see, at left, the chariot of Saturn, and at right the chariot of Jove—the Italian name for Jupiter, one of the seven known planets an


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