HOLBEIN, Hans the Younger
(b. 1497, Augsburg, d. 1543, London)

Triumph of Wealth

Pen in brown, with gray and brown wash, white highlights and subsequently squared, 251 x 569 mm
Musée du Louvre, Paris

Plutus, the old, frail god of wealth, sits on a triumphal chariot drawn by four horses. Reason (Ratio) steers the chariot with Knowledge (Notitia) and Will (Voluntas). The horses - Avarice, Fraud, Usury, and Contract - are held in check by four women, who stand for Generosity (Liberalitas), Honesty (Bona Fides), Balance (Aequalitas), and Justice (Iustitia). Goddess of fortune, Fortuna, sits on the wagon with full sail and bound eyes, and apportions her wealth blindly to a group of people accompanying the chariot. Their good or bad luck was determined by the caprice of lottery. Nemesis, the goddess of Revenge, flies in the clouds behind as the embodiment of the inexorableness of fate. She makes it clear that even men and women particularly favoured in life, like Croesus, Midas, and Cleopatra, who are following the procession on horseback, ultimately come to a fall.