Skip to Content

The museum is temporarily closed. Learn more.

The Fates Gathering in the Stars

A work made of oil on canvas.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

Image actions

  • A work made of oil on canvas.




Elihu Vedder
American, 1836–1923

About this artwork

Elihu Vedder adapted this painting from an illustration he designed for an 1884 edition of Edward FitzGerald’s translation of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. An expatriate artist who lived in Rome for most of his life, Vedder was attracted to mysterious, visionary subject matter. The artist used the Rubaiyat to express his own philosophical beliefs regarding such metaphysical and spiritual questions as death and the existence of an afterlife, subjects that are at the core of Khayyam’s poetry. This image depicts the three Fates of Greek mythology—Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos—working the thread of life. Clotho spins the thread, Lachesis fixes its length, and Atropos cuts it at the appointed time of death. The Fates are symbolized by the spindle, distaff, and shears in the foreground and represent the poet’s belief that mankind has no control over destiny.

Currently Off View

Arts of the Americas


Elihu Vedder


The Fates Gathering in the Stars


United States




Oil on canvas


Signed, lower right: "Elihu Vedder / Rome 1887"


113 × 82.6 cm (44 1/2 × 32 1/2 in.)

Credit Line

Friends of American Art Collection

Reference Number


Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.


Sign up for our enewsletter to receive updates.

Learn more

Image actions