Jan Cossiers (1600-1671), a painter of Flemish origin, produced several versions of the same subject of the gypsy fortune-teller. The present situation can be traced back to the two paintings on the same theme by Caravaggio (1571-1610) at the end of the 16th century, but with a more complex scheme involving various figures. In this image, a languid, confident-looking boy has allowed himself to be persuaded to be read by a gypsy woman with two children in tow, who uses a second to steal his hand. The exuberant and even luxurious costumes of the gypsies of Nicolas Regnier (1591-1667) or Georges de la Tour (1593-1652) have been dispelled here, leaving room for ragged clothes at the ends, this gives them a ragged appearance that can be explained by the demographic reality and the poverty that plagued much of Europe in the aftermath of the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648), but which also finds its raison d’être in the implementation of harsh anti-Gypsy legislation, which classified them as marginalised and even criminal beings. Despite this, such circumstances do not prevent the women in Cossiers’s work from wearing one of the most striking and unique elements of their clothing, the bern, that circular hat with a wicker frame made by interweaving different coloured fabrics. The scene is completed by two other figures, namely a girl with her hand held out in a gesture of silence and a large-mustached gypsy wearing a wide-brimmed hat with a sword in his hand. This leaves open the possibility that we are dealing with a group in which everyone, through their gestures and movements, is linked to the action.
Project: 4. Family, daily life and social inequality in Europe., 7. Persecuted by justice and powers: rebels, political dissidents and criminals in the history of Europe., 9. Travels and travelers: economic, social and cultural connections.
Scope: Baccalaureate, University
Resource type: Image
Format: Oil on canvas, 111,9x186,6 cm
Source: Museo de Bellas Artes de Valenciennes (Francia)
Date: c. 1630
Owner: Blanca Rodríguez Hernández (Modernalia)
Copyright: Museo de Bellas Artes de Valenciennes (Francia)
Abstract: The Fortune Teller by the Frenchman Jan Cossiers, executed around 1630Image