This woman, who has been rendered with a free and lively brush, is one of the three Fates, mysterious sisters from Greek mythology who determined the destiny of men through spinning, measuring, and cutting the thread of life. She is shown here in profile, one of Creti’s favorite compositional devices, as it allowed him to capture idealized and original renderings of feminine elegance. She wears a simple dress, and her golden hair is adorned with braids and jewels, and with a pensive expression, she casts her eyes downward over her left shoulder. She sits in front of a simple wooden spinning wheel and holds a thin thread of string with two fingers of her left hand.
Very likely, this Fate is Clotho, the sister who spins the thread. Although she is seen here in solitude tending to her work, she probably once formed part of a trio of paintings with her sisters: Lachesis, the one who measures the thread, and Atropis, the one who cuts the thread. Further supporting this idea is the existence of a closely related composition by Creti of a young woman, probably Lachesis, seen in profile but facing to the left (fig. 1). Presently unlocated, then, would be Atropis, who would have been placed in the middle. The downward and reflective glances of her two other sisters suggest they are looking on as she cuts the thread of life.
Professor Daniele Benati, who has examined this work firsthand, endorses the attribution to Donato Creti and dates the painting to the 1690s.
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