Saturday, November 13, 2010

Saturday Salon: A Favorite Painting

The Fortune-Teller by the French painter Georges de La Tour (1593-1652) has always been one of my favorite paintings to invent stories about, especially apt since the painter himself has remained a bit of a mystery over the centuries. You can read more about de La Tour and his work, here. Considered by a few experts to be a forgery done in the 1920's, The Fortune-Teller, nevertheless hangs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, accepted (and purchased) by them as a La Tour. Read more about the controversy at the link above.

Regardless of controversy, I was smitten by the grouping of characters, the brilliant colors and the very defined use of artificial light in this painting when I first saw it once upon a time. The expressions on the faces of the main characters are what stopped me dead in my tracks - they are priceless. Look at the girl in the middle, eyes sideways - waiting with bated breath while a confederate picks the young dandy's pocket. All this going on while the gypsy fortune teller on the far right spins a tale for the blankly unsuspecting and richly dressed victim. And have you ever seen a more foolish face than on this young man? Love, love, LOVE his outfit though - gorgeous combo of style, fabric and color. (The pink sleeves appear to be silk.) By the foolishness on his not-very-bright face we can invent all sorts of not-very-sympathetic stories about him. I mean, look at him -he appears the sort barely able to dress himself. But one assumes a valet did all the work.

Well, he'll be out his purse and have no one to blame but himself. By the looks of the fortune teller's gorgeous garments, she's done all right for herself and probably been at it for ages with the help of family or confederates. Lots to view and consider in this richly realized painting.


  1. I'm loving these posts of your because it's exposing me to artists that I'm not all that familiar with other than the name. I agree with you that their is something about this painting that mesmerizes you and allows you to get lost in the drama unfolding on the canvas.

  2. I have lots of favorite paintings, Ryan, so be prepared. :) Thanks for understanding what I'm doing with these posts.

  3. 2nd right. One of my favourite expressions in art history :) You can see it in detail here -

  4. Yes, it is QUITE an expression. I love it too.


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