From the late Classical period onwards, the Wheel of Fortune became entrenched in the standard iconographic repertoire of artists across Europe. Popularised in the De Consolatione Philosophiæ written by the Roman philosopher Boethius while awaiting his trial and execution in Pavia in 523AD, the trope of Fortune as a fickle and cruel goddess, her 'domineering hand [moving] the turning wheel [who]…/… steely hearted laughs at groans her deeds have wrung' (Boethius, The Consolation of Philosophy, Aylesbury, 1969, p. 56) quickly became established.
The present work shows Fortune, her eyes blindfolded, holding a chest of coins which she drops on a crowd of figures beneath her who surge towards the falling money. People of all social rank crush forward attempting to gather the rewards of her mutable favour. To the left, in keeping with the traditions of representations of ever-changing Fortune, a beggar holds his hat out to catch the falling coins, trampling over the figure of a king as he does so.