This bronze is the work of Francesco Bertos, a prominent Venetian sculptor of the first half of the 18th century. It depicts an allegory of Fortune holding a torn sail above two fighting male figures next to whom the figure of Cupid sits. The group makes up a dynamic and dramatic pyramidal composition full of movement which depicts the complex choice of subject matter typical of this artist.
According to Charles Avery, whose 2008 monograph has provided significant new research about the artist and his work, Bertos found inspiration in Italian Renaissance and Baroque sculpture but developed a personal and distinguishable style. Like many of his compositions, the present group combines mannerist elements noticeable in the elegant gestures and elongated limbs of the figures with the drama of the Baroque which can be perceived in the muscular bodies and the facial expressions. At the same time the light, almost suspended nature of the group composition is reminiscent of Giambattista Tiepolo's ascending crowded designs for paintings and frescos (Avery, op. cit., pp. 59-60).
Francesco Bertos' patrons included Tsar Peter the Great, and some of the most prestigious Venetian names of his time such as Field Marshal Johan Mathias von den Schulenburg and Antonio Manin, who were attracted by the exquisite delicacy of his marble carvings and his unrivalled virtuosity in metal casting, as Avery attests (ibid, pp. 14-15). The dispersal of some of these historic collections in the 20th century, and the subsequent renewal of interest in Bertos has resulted in the resurrection of his reputation to a level enjoyed by the sculptor in his own day.