The Three Fates, Costume Designs

Pierre Milan

The Three Fates, Costume Designs

c. 1534


257 x 427 mm

Stanza del Borgo S.R.L.


+39 02 659 8203

Price upon request

More Information

Engraving, after Rosso Fiorentino (1494-1540)
Robert-Dumesnil, 8:53-54, no. 90; Levron 1941, 75, 180; Zerner, 1969, P. M. 3.
Inscribed at the bottom Rous-Floren-Inuentor: lower right Cum Privilegio Regis.
257 x 427 mm
A brilliant, clear and richly inked impression on  paper with watermark letter b, similar to Briquet 8090 and 8091  (French paper, first half of sixteenth century); the impression of this print at the Cleveland Museum of Art (no. 1984.71) bears the same watermark.
This engraving reproduces a trio of costume designs by Rosso Fiorentino.
They were likely meant for a masquerade ball held at the court of King Francis I. Each figure represents one of the Three Fates, the female deities in Greek and Roman religion who affected human destiny.
Their control was often symbolized by cloth or thread, to indicate the spinning of human life; and here we see them holding (from left to right) wool, thread, and flax. The engraved image is probably shown in reverse of Rosso’s lost drawing from which it was made, for if meant to be read from left to right it would have shown the youngest  Fate at the left and the oldest one at the right.    
These costume designs introduce us to another aspect  of Rosso’s activity in France, his drawings for mascherade and costumes that Vasari mentioned; in the case of this print costumes of actors in performance. The youngest of the Fates is Clotho at the right, who wears over her torso a panel of leather or some other firm material. The costume of the slightly larger Lachesis, who holds a spindle and a ball of thread, is designed to give this second Fate a more mature apparence. The costume of Lachesis is no less fantastic than Clotho’s, but it is more complex to characterize this old and less innocent  Fate. The third Fate, Atropos, who tears her bundle of wool into two pieces, is dressed almost entirely without ornament. Her face is old and surrounded by material forming a kind of turban that falls in a long drapery down her back.
Henri Zerner, The School of Fontainebleau, Etchings and Engravings, London, 1969.
Eugene A. Carrol, Rosso Fiorentino, Drawings, Prints, and Decorative Arts, catalogue of the exhibition at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1987.
Jean-Jacques Léveque, L’Ecole de Fontainebleau, Neuchatel, 2001.