Simon Vouet (French, 1590–1649)
The Fortune Teller, c. 1620
Oil on canvas, 47 1/4 x 67 in.
(120 x 170.2 cm)
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa. Purchased 1957
Vouet’s response to Caravaggio’s Gypsy Fortune Teller is more theatrical, betraying the roots of the subject in the commedia dell’arte and popular literature. The woman on the left smiles, pulling us into the picture. A contrived show of gesturing hands and conspiratorial glances tells the story: the gypsy fortune teller, a stock character assumed to cheat her clients, is herself being robbed. Vouet offers a farce, full of vivid observations, in place of Caravaggio’s more universal tale of the perils of human desire.
Click on the image to see the full painting.