Franz Fallenter (1555-1612)

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Fortune, Fate's Messenger

Picture panel
Attributed to Franz Fallenter (c.1550 – 1612)
Lucerne, 1592
38 x 27cm
Clear glass, the painting very beautifully executed, polychrome glasses, red flashed glass with areas etched away, black and red vitreous paint, yellow silver stain

Private collection Zürich


On either side of the inscription cartouche with the names of the donor couple (Bernhard Meyer von Baldegg, known as ‘Schwytzer’ (d.1606) and Anna am Ryn), as well as those of the officials contemporary with the husband, are the arms of the four cities of Schwyz, Lucern, Zurich and Glarus. The husband’s family belonged to Lucerne’s elite and obtained citizenship of that city in 1581. In the upper panes are St Anna with the Virgin and Child (left); the miracle of the Lactation of St Bernard, with the saint kneeling before the Virgin and Child (centre); and a sainted king or emperor (right).

Fortuna, the Roman goddess of luck and fate, has since time immemorial been seen as the embodiment of power over fate. The height of her fame was in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, when the world’s seas were being discovered and conquered, and much depended on her favour. Here Fortuna stands between the arms of the donors, on a winged globe, with a billowing sail above her head. A notable attribute is the sceptre she holds in her hand with a bird on the end, which alludes to how swiftly luck can come and go.

Beautiful, expressive glass-painting.


Hans Lehmann, Geschichte der Luzerner Glasmalerei von den Anfängen bis zu Beginn es 18. Jahrhunderts, Lucerne, 1941, p. 154 (pl. 171).

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Biografie Franz Fallenter