The goddess Fortune impassively turns her gigantic wheel, with a poet, a king, and a slave tied to it. The original painting is over two metres high, and the wheel spans its entire length. Burne-Jones remarked that ‘My wheel of Fortune is a true-to-life image; it comes to fetch each of us in turn, then it crushes us.’
Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones
The Wheel of Fortune
Date of work
An English painter, Sir Edward Burne-Jones was born in Birmingham and educated at Oxford, where he met his lifelong friend William Morris. He studied briefly under Dante Gabriel Rossetti but soon outgrew his influence despite retaining great respect for him. Burne-Jones later visited Italy with John Ruskin, seeing works by Botticelli and Mantegna which had a profound influence on him. From 1878, Burne-Jones gained a European reputation and influenced both continental Symbolism and Art Nouveau.