Nemesis (The Great Fortune)Enlarge image

Nemesis (The Great Fortune), 1502

Albrecht Dürer
German, 1471 - 1528
engraving on laid paper
33.2 x 23 cm
Purchased 1913
National Gallery of Canada (no. 592)

This engraving, with its atmosphere of fantasy, was born from a highly singular interpretation of classical and humanist texts. Although Dürer identified his allegorical figure as Nemesis, later commentary suggests the sphere beneath the feet of the goddess and her ample belly and rump make her recognizable as Fortune. The wings associate her with victory, while the cup in one hand and bridle in the other are emblems of generosity and dominance respectively. The landscape surrounding her is a "tour de force" for its precise rendering of details as well as for the virtuosity demonstrated by the engraver in his depiction of aerial perspective.


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