Le Sorti...intitolate giardino di pensieri

Author: Written and published by Francesco Marcolini da Forli (Italian, Forli ca. 1500–after 1559 Venice) , Venice

Author: Rhyming responses written by Lodovico Dolce (Italian, Venice 1508–1568 Venice)

Date: October 1540

Medium: Printed book with woodcut illustrations.

Dimensions: 12 3/16 x 8 11/16 x 7/8 in. (31 x 22 x 2.3 cm)

Classification: Books

Credit Line: Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1937

Accession Number: 37.37.23


The evocative woodcut that adorns the frontispiece of this fortune-telling book is prominently signed by the artist Giuseppe Porta (ca. 1520–ca. 1575) from the Garfagnana region of northern Tuscany, who later took the name Salviati in honor of his teacher, the well-known Mannerist painter Francesco Salviati. However, the composition is not original to Porta but closely copies an engraving by Marco Dente, a student of Marcantonio Raimondi who died in the Sack of Rome of 1527. By changing the book opening to show two pages from Marcolini's Le Sorti instead of an image of stars and planets, and by adding a pack of playing cards, the image has shifted from a gathering of scientists to a group of fortune-telling enthusiasts. The three women are probably intended as the three Parcae or Fates, who in ancient mythology spun, measured, and cut the thread of human life. Shown carrying out these actions in an allegorical image on page 21 of the book, the Fates are especially appropriate to the cover of a publication entitled Le Sorti, or The Fates. In this frontispiece, where they are engaged in the pleasurable pursuit of fortune-telling, they seem more relaxed than in the engraving by Dente—the one in the foreground even seems to smile as she shows Marcolini's book to the pensive man beside her.