This hitherto unrecorded drawing is evidently an early study for The Wheel of Fortune, said to have been Burne-Jones's own favourite among his compositions and certainly one of his most Michelangelesque. The design was conceived in 1870 for one of the four allegorical figures (Fortune, Fame, Love and Oblivion) that frame and divide the predella panels of the Troy Triptych. This ambitious scheme was never completed in its overall form, but several of the component compositions were later developed as independent pictures.
The definitive version of The Wheel of Fortune (Musée d'Orsay, Paris) was exhibited at the Grosvenor Gallery in 1883. There are also versions at Leighton House, Kensington, and in the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff (fig. 1), and the Carlisle Art Gallery. Some are more unfinished than others, and all differ in detail. The style and technique of the present study, together with the design of the drapery and head-dress, point to a date not far from the figure's conception in 1870.