This canvas painted in oil with more than considerable dimensions (200 x 212 cm) is preserved in the National Gallery of Ancient Art of the Palacio Barberini of Rome. And it is a painting that scholars do not finish agreeing on its authorship. For some it is a work by Giovanni Antonio Bazzi, known as Il Sodoma (1477 – 1549), although some historians consider that a his disciple. While for other critics it would be the creation of Marco Bigio, a Sienese painter from the first half of the 16th century. And there are even many historians who actually suggest that it was a shared authorship, since they distinguish between two different hands in its execution.
The Three Fates
The protagonists of the painting are the three practically naked women who can be seen in the foreground. They are the Fates, which in Latin mythology are the personification of destiny, a destiny always dramatic since it leads to death. They are also sometimes depicted as spinners in a metaphor of weaving the thread of life.
On the other hand here simply standing and naked accompanied by endless allegorical characters. For example, at her feet there are several children or cupids, some playing with the bow in allusion to Cupid and love, and others searching among the coins on the ground. Some coins that recall famous people who alsothere are finished by disappearing like César or Lucrecia.
It is not the only reference to the ephemerality of life. There is an old bearded man who would be the representation of Time. Or you can see the head of a skeleton armed with a large scythe, the quintessential symbol of death.
There is also a pair of swans, animals that also embody the most magnificent beauty. Just as there are other more fantastic beings and even a character that would be like a river surrounded by aquatic plants, alluding to the inexorable flow of life.
There are more symbolic beings, in a very tasteful painting from the 16th century, so fond of allegories inspired by the classics. A painting that originally belonged to the Counts Pieri of the city of Siena. However, much of its history is not fully known. In fact, the work did not see the light again and be public until 1933, when it was bought by the minister of culture of the fascist dictator Benito Mussolini at an antiques market. And from there it later became part of the Italian national collection of ancient art.