'Study for The Wheel of Fortune', Edward Burne-Jones, dated 1873
Accession number 3816
Pencil on paper, 22 x 12.4cm
Purchased by Lord Leverhulme at the artist's studio sale,1919, for the Lady Lever Art Gallery
A study for the head of the goddess Fortune in the large painting based on the classical myth of the goddess Fortuna ('Lady Luck') The theme is the helplessness of man in the face of destiny.
Burne-Jones pictures the goddess with a huge wheel, to which are chained three men, a slave, a king and a poet. As the goddess turns the wheel, their fates rise and fall, and they have no power of control. In the drawing, the model's eyes are open but in the painting they are closed, oblivious to the men's fates.
The goddess with her turban shows the artist's debt to Michelangelo. In 1871 Burne-Jones visited the Sistine Chapel, Rome, lying on the floor and looking up at the ceiling through opera glasses, to study the sibyls painted there by Michelangelo.
The oil painting ' The Wheel of Fortune' by Edward Burne-Jones, 1854, is in the collections of the Musée d'Orsay, Paris.