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Allegory of Fortune

Object Name



Lippi, Lorenzo 1606-1665 (Primary maker)
Lippi, Lorenzo 1606-1665 (artist)


The depiction of a human figure personifying an abstract concept such as youth or beauty is called an allegory. The young woman in this painting is an allegory of fortune and the monkey, who appears to be selecting playing cards, symbolises chance. The association of fortune with man’s ability to shape his destiny by swift, decisive action was a popular concept during the Renaissance. It derived from the classical idea of fortune being an unpredictable force which must be seized to ensure success. Born in Florence, Lippi was a pupil of Matteo Rosselli from whom he learnt the fine, searching drawing skills of the Florentine workshop tradition. During the 1630s Lippi drew increasingly from nature, a skill described by his biographer Balducci as ‘his pure imitation of reality’. Lippi also developed a restrained, classical style that abandoned the richly patterned fabrics and elaborate jewellery favoured by other Seventeenth century Florentine painters. Physical Description: A young woman stands by a table with a deck of cards. With sleeves rolled up, and material worn in a loose turban on her head, she offers a splayed deck of cards for a monkey to pick one. She stares out toward the viewer.


oil on canvas

Catalogue Number



National Museums NI