Valentin de Boulogne (French, 1591–1632)
Fortune Teller with Soldiers, c. 1620
Oil on canvas, 58 7/8 x 93 7/8 in.
(149.5 x 238.5 cm)
Toledo Museum of Art. Purchased with funds from the Libbey Endowment. Gift of Edward Drummond Libbey
The French artist Valentin was among Caravaggio’s most gifted interpreters. Here he embellishes the theme of the gypsy fortune teller to include a colorful, spellbound audience. The fortune teller, preoccupied with her prophecy, becomes vulnerable. A pickpocket slips his hand into her cloak and stares directly at us, defying us to warn her. Meanwhile, an urchin robs him in turn. On the right, one soldier glances back at us, linking the painted world and our reality while inviting us to ponder the irony unfolding, as deceivers are in turn deceived. In these witty, sophisticated paintings, Valentin both entertains and alludes to deeper concerns of human destiny, fate, and choice.
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