While an old gypsy crone tells his fortune, a naive youth is robbed by her accomplices, a subject popular among Caravaggesque painters throughout Europe in the seventeenth century. La Tour’s painting can be interpreted as a genre or theatrical scene, or as an allusion to the parable of the prodigal son. The inscription on the painting includes the name of the town where La Tour lived, Lunéville in Lorraine.
Georges de La Tour’s Fortune Teller is one of the painter’s early masterpieces. It has been variously dated between 1620 and 1639, and it is most likely from the 1630s. The canvas is signed at top right: G. de La Tour Fecit Luneuilla Lothar:, identifying La Tour as working in Lunéville in Lorraine, where he died in 1653. The painting is first recorded in 1650, in the posthumous inventory of Jean-Baptiste de Bretagne in Paris, where it appears as no. 14: "grand tableau peint sur thoille avecq la platte bande dorée représentant des diseuses de bonneaventure, original de La Tour," and was valued at the very high sum of 30 livres. In 1879 it is recorded again in the posthumous inventory of Édouard Lemonnier de Lorière, who had died that year, at the château de Moulin Vieux, Asnières sur Vègre, Sarthe. The Lemonnier de Lorière family had acquired the château de Moulin Vieux "fully furnished" from the last marquis de Scépeaux, and it is possible that the canvas by La Tour was already in the château by the time it passed to them. The painting subsequently belonged to Édouard Lemonnier de Lorière’s daughter, Mme Léonce de Gastines at château de la Denisière near Coulans, Sarthe, until 1921, and then to her son, Général Jacques de Gastines, at La Vagotière, Degré, Sarthe. After his death in 1948, his heirs sold the picture to Wildenstein, from whom it was acquired in 1960 by the MMA.
The painting has a later addition at the top, just above the signature, and has also been cut down to the left, and it is likely that its format was originally closer to other works by La Tour. It has in fact been suggested that the Fortune Teller may have been a pendant to the Cheat with the Ace of Diamonds at the Louvre, or the Cheat with the Ace of Clubs at the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas.
La Tour represents five eccentrically dressed three-quarter length figures. At the center is a naïve boy, surrounded by four gypsy women. The old hag on the right is telling the youth’s fortune, while two of the beautiful young girls steal from him. The subject of the gypsy fortune teller and the duped young man was common in Europe in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. This was a typical Caravaggesque subject matter and the Italian artist painted two canvases with this topic, now in the Pinacoteca Capitolina in Rome and the Musée du Louvre in Paris. The topic, however, may have derived from prints. The overall composition is similar to Northern works such as the Old Gypsy Telling the Fortune of a Young Lady by Jacques de Gheyn II. The courtesan on the right is similar to an etching by Bellange, and the old gypsy may derive from an engraving by Jasper de Isaac (Pariset 1961). It is also possible that the subject may derive from contemporary theatrical scenes, and may even be related to the biblical subject of the Prodigal Son.
[Xavier F. Salomon 2012]
Inscription: Signed and inscribed: (upper right) G. de La Tour Fecit Luneuilla Lothar: (Lunéville Lorraine); (on young man's watch chain) AMOR (love) FIDES (faith)
?Jean-Baptiste de Bretagne, Paris (until d. 1650; posthumous inventory, 1650, no. 14, "grand tableau peint sur thoille avecq la platte bande dorée représentant des diseuses de bonneaventure, original de La Tour," valued at 30 Livres [this painting was given one of the highest valuations in Bretagne's inventory, which included five paintings by La Tour]); ?(last) marquis de Scépeaux, château de Moulin Vieux, Asnières sur Vègre, Sarthe (until 1802; the entire château [very possibly including La Tour's "Fortune Teller"] was sold or given "fully furnished" to the Lemonnier de Lorière family); Édouard Lemonnier de Lorière, château de Moulin Vieux, Asnières sur Vègre, Sarthe (until d. 1879; inventory 1879, "un grand tableau signé G. de La Tour, représentant la Bonaventure, prisé deux cent cinquante francs"); his daughter, Mme de Gastines, château de la Denisière, near Coulans, Sarthe (until 1921); her son, Général de Gastines, La Vagotière, Degré, Sarthe (1921–d. 1948); the heirs of Général de Gastines (1948–49; sold to Wildenstein for Fr 7,500,000); [Wildenstein, Paris and New York, 1949–60; sold to MMA]
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Splendid Century, French Art: 1600–1715," March 8–April 30, 1961, suppl. no. 168.
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. "Masterpieces of Painting in The Metropolitan Museum of Art," September 16–November 1, 1970, unnumbered cat. (p. 63).
Paris. Orangerie des Tuileries. "Georges de La Tour," May 10–September 25, 1972, no. 12.
Moscow. State Pushkin Museum. "100 Paintings from the Metropolitan Museum," August 28–November 2, 1975, no. 47.
Paris. Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais. "La Peinture française du XVIIe siècle dans les collections américaines," January 29–April 26, 1982, no. 39.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "France in the Golden Age: Seventeenth-century French Paintings in American Collections," May 26–August 22, 1982, no. 39.
Art Institute of Chicago. "France in the Golden Age: Seventeenth-century French Paintings in American Collections," September 18–November 28, 1982, no. 39.
Vienna. Kunsthistorisches Museum. "Georges de La Tour bei der Wahrsagerin," January 28–May 24, 1987, unnumbered cat.
Washington. National Gallery of Art. "Georges de La Tour and his World," October 6, 1996–January 5, 1997, no. 18.
Fort Worth, Tex. Kimbell Art Museum. "Georges de La Tour and his World," February 2–May 11, 1997, no. 17.
Paris. Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais. "Georges de La Tour," October 3, 1997–January 26, 1998, no. 27.
Paris. Grand Palais. "Bohèmes: de Léonard de Vinci à Picasso," September 26, 2012–January 14, 2013, no. 13.
Madrid. Museo Nacional del Prado, Spanish Indemnity. "Georges de La Tour (1593–1652)," February 23–June 12, 2016, no. 18.
Vitale Bloch. Georges de La Tour. Amsterdam, 1950, p. 74, notes that there is a "Waarzegster" [our "Fortune Teller"] in France, an early work by La Tour, and suggests it is the pendant to the "Valsespelers" ["Cheat with the Ace of Diamonds," also called the "Tricheur"] in the Landry Collection [now Louvre, Paris].
Charles Sterling. "Observations sur Georges de La Tour, apropos d'un livre récent [review of Bloch 1950]." Revues des arts 1 (September 1951), pp. 149–50, 152, notes that the owner of this picture does not wish it to be published just yet; considers it perhaps La Tour's earliest composition and comments on its German and mannerist/Caravaggesque character.
Vitale Bloch. "Geroges de la Tour Once Again." Burlington Magazine 96 (March 1954), p. 81, identifies the "Fortune Teller" as an early "daylight" picture, belonging to the same period in La Tour's development (1620–30) as his "Hurdy-Gurdy Player" (Musée des Beaux-Arts, Nantes) and "Cheat with the Ace of Diamonds".
"La 'Buona Ventura' di Georges de La Tour." Arte antica e moderna 10 (April–June 1960), pp. 214–15, pl. 62d, associates it with the "daylight" Caravaggism of Orazio Gentileschi and Jean Le Clerc.
"Spectacular Buy for the Metropolitan." Art News 59 (Summer 1960), p. 26, ill.
Fritz Neugass. "Sturm der Entrüstung über eine Neuerwerbung des Metropolitan Museum." Weltkunst 30 (July 1960), pp. 7–8, ill.
Juan Antonio Gaya Nuño. "L'exile des objets d'art: rebondissement de notre article de février 1960." Connaissance des arts 102 (August 1960), pp. 50–51, ill.
Theodore Rousseau Jr. The Splendid Century: French Art, 1600–1715. Exh. cat.Washington, 1960, supplement, p. 1, no. 168, as generally dated between 1625 and 1630; compares its style and mood to the "Cheat with the Ace of Diamonds", noting that both paintings relate "a moral lesson in anecdotal form".
François-Georges Pariset. "A Newly Discovered La Tour: The Fortune Teller." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 19 (March 1961), pp. 198–205, ill., proposes a date of execution before 1633, the year the duchy of Lorraine came under French domination, on the grounds that La Tour would not have used the inscription "Luneuilla Lothar" (Lunéville, Lorraine) after that year; suggests that it functioned as a sort of "advertisement" for the artist, soon after the opening of his studio in Lunéville; relates the archaic frieze-like composition of this and other paintings by La Tour to the influence of comic prints produced in France between 1560 and 1610; describes the handling of light as "realistic yet illogical," similar to the artist's "Cheat with the Ace of Diamonds," "Saint Jerome in his Cell" (Royal Collection, Hampton Court), and Penitent Saint Jeromes (Musée de Grenoble and Nationalmuseum, Stockholm); notes that the courtesan's necklace of black beads is identical to the bracelet worn by the "Flea Catcher" (Musée Historique Lorrain, Nancy), suggesting the pictures were painted at the same time; observes that the courtesan on the right might be derived from a Bellange etching (fig. 5) and the old gypsy from a Jasper de Isaac engraving (fig. 8); identifies the two figures on the left as gypsies and describes the old woman's clothes as an amalgam of local costume and Eastern motifs designed to achieve an exotic effect.
Ruth T. Costantino. How to Know French Antiques. New York, 1961, ill. between pp. 128 and 129.
Albert Châtelet and Jacques Thuillier. French Painting from Fouquet to Poussin. Geneva, 1963, p. 180.
François-Georges Pariset inEnciclopedia universale dell'arte. Ed. Massimo Pallottino. Vol. 8, Venice, 1963, p. 543, dates immediately before the "Flea Catcher" in Nancy.
A.-M. Bougier. Georges de La Tour, peintre du roy. Paris, 1963, pp. 136–38.
Hermann Voss. "Die Darstellungen des Hl. Franziskus im Werk von Georges de La Tour." Pantheon 23 (1965), p. 404.
Anna Ottani Cavina. La Tour (Maestri del Colore). Milan, 1966, unpaginated, ill. cover, pl. 3 (color).
Hidemichi Tanaka. "L'oeuvre de Georges de La Tour." PhD diss., Université de Strasbourg, 1969, pp. 39, 59–61, 64–67, 71, 74, 95–96, 111, 126–28, 131, ill. (overall and detail), catalogues it as La Tour's earliest known work, deduces from the inscription that the picture was executed before 1633, and suggests a date about 1620; compares the costume of the old woman to that of the female figure in the "Musician's Brawl" (Musée des Beaux-Arts, Chambéry), suggesting that La Tour may have used the same model.
Introduction by Kenneth Clark inMasterpieces of Fifty Centuries. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1970, p. 266, no. 292, ill. (color), suggests that La Tour probably painted the picture near the beginning of his career, after a study period in Italy where he must have seen the work of Caravaggio.
Edith A. Standen inMasterpieces of Painting in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Exh. cat., Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. New York, , p. 63, ill. (color).
Anthony Blunt. Art and Architecture in France, 1500 to 1700. 2nd ed. [1st ed. 1953]. Baltimore, 1970, p. 159, lists it among the artist's earliest works; sees no direct evidence of Caravaggesque influence, but considers it an exercise "in a manner which had been practised in Nancy by Callot and by Jean Leclerc".
Diana de Marly. "Note on the Metropolitan 'Fortune Teller'." Burlington Magazine 112 (June 1970), pp. 388–91, ill. (overall and details), questions the authenticity of the picture, and the judgment of Pariset, remarking that the costume details in the "Fortune Teller" are "completely at variance with the dress of the 1620s"; points to numerous apparent anachronisms and concludes that the picture is unlikely to have been executed by La Tour at any time in his career.
Adolph S. Cavallo. Letter to Theodore Rousseau and Claus Virch. June 3, 1970, discusses the costumes in this picture.
Donald King. "The Metropolitan 'Fortune Teller'." Burlington Magazine 112 (October 1970), pp. 700–701, takes issue with de Marley's claim [Refs. 1970] that that the old gypsy's patterned mantle is derived from a painting by Joos van Cleve; states that the fabric is "technically unexceptionable" and rendered so acurately that the artist must almost certainly have studied the actual textile.
Diana de Marly. "Letters, Miss de Marley writes:." Burlington Magazine 112 (October 1970), p. 701, response to Ref. King 1970.
Emma H. Mellencamp. "Fake" Costumes by Georges de La Tour. 1971, pp. 1–26, and notes, refutes de Marley's observations on costume and hairstyle, citing evidence in support of the picture's authenticity; concludes that the costumes in the picture are demonstrably consistent with the art of the period.
Benedict Nicolson. Letter to Everett Fahy. May 20, 1971, supports the picture's attribution to La Tour following an interview with Dom de Laborde, a monk at the Abbé of Solesmes (Sarthe), who could account for the painting's whereabouts as far back as the 19th century.
Pierre Rosenberg and Jacques Thuillier. Georges de La Tour. Exh. cat., Orangerie des Tuileries. Paris, 1972, pp. 7–8, 14, 16–18, 102, 112, 148–151, 156, no. 12, ill. p. 38 (color) and pp. 148 and 151 (overall and details).
Jacques Thuillier. "La Tour: Between Yesterday and Tomorrow." Art News 71 (Summer 1972), pp. 25–26.
François-Georges Pariset. "L'Exposition de Georges de La Tour à l'Orangerie, Paris." Gazette des beaux-arts, 6th ser., 80 (October 1972), pp. 208–9.
Anthony Blunt. "Georges de La Tour at the Orangerie." Burlington Magazine 114 (August 1972), pp. 519–20, 523–25, fig. 13 (detail), notes that "in their stylized poses, mannered gestures and arch looks they [La Tour's early works] suggest a stage scene and can indeed be regarded as descendants of a type of theatrical composition current in the late sixteenth century, some of which were engraved"; also connects them with the 16th-century Franco-Flemish low-life tradition.
Jacques Thuillier. "Georges de La Tour, trois paradoxes." L'Oeil no. 208 (April 1972), pp. 2–3, ill.
Vitale Bloch. "Georges de La Tour." Kunstchronik (August 1972), pp. 222, 224, 241, ill.
Raymond Picard. "L'unité spirituelle de Georges de La Tour." Gazette des beaux-arts 80 (October 1972), pp. 214–18, ill. (details), sees the "Fortune Teller" and "Tricheur" [or "Cheat"] as episodes in the parable of the Prodigal Son and also as animated "vanitas" images.
Anna Ottani Cavina. "La Tour all'Orangerie e il suo primo tempo caravaggesco." Paragone 23 (November 1972), pp. 17–18.
François Solesmes. Georges de La Tour. Lausanne, 1973, pp. 63, 70–73, 100, 120, 125–26, 130, 153, 155, ill. (color, overall and detail), dates it about 1630; discusses this picture and the "Tricheur" in relation to the parable of the Prodigal Son.
Pierre Rosenberg and François Macé de L'Épinay. Georges de La Tour: vie et oeuvre. Fribourg, Switzerland, 1973, pp. 10, 24, 28, 42, 116, 118, 120–21, 156, 184, 201, 202, no. 206, ill. pp. 31 and 33 (color, overall and detail) and 121 (detail of signature), place it among La Tour's latest "daylight" subjects and find the date "about 1630" proposed in the 1972 exhibition catalogue a bit late; observe that the artist's signature recalls that employed by Bellange in his engravings.
Jacques Thuillier. L'opera completa di Georges de La Tour. Milan, 1973, pp. 6–7, 13–14, 85, 90–91, ill. (overall and details) and colorpls. 20–24, dates the picture between 1633 and 1639; considers it exemplary of La Tour's "first style", characterized by detailed, diurnal representations of profane, moralizing subjects; interprets the signature as an indication that the picture was either painted outside Lunéville, or for a patron outside the Lorraine; relates the subject to the theme of the Prodigal Son.
F. Grossmann. "Some Observations on Georges de La Tour and the Netherlandish Tradition." Burlington Magazine 115 (September 1973), pp. 579–80, agrees with Blunt [Ref. 1972] in stressing the un-Caravaggesque character of La Tour's "Fortune Teller" and comments on the long history in Netherlandish art of the themes of fortune telling and thieving; suggests that the La Tour may have been familiar with a Netherlandish engraving, an "Old Gypsy Telling the Fortune of a Young Lady" by Jaques de Gheyn II (fig. 20), which prefigures the contrast between the ugly old woman and the beauty and elegance of the slightly embarrassed young customer, as well as the sharp profile of the young gypsy, the position of her hand, and the turban-like head scarves worn by the old gypsy and one of her companions.
Maurizio Marini. Io Michelangelo da Caravaggio. Rome, 1974, p. 351.
Benedict Nicolson and Christopher Wright. Georges de La Tour. London, 1974, pp. 13–15, 18–19, 21, 25–28, 42, 188–89, no. 48, ill. (overall and details) and frontispiece (color detail), conclude from the inscription that this is an early work, as La Tour is unlikely to have "boasted . . . of being a Lunéville artist after he had established himself there"; note that he arrived in 1620 and date our picture about 1620–21, after the Louvre "Cheat"; state that the canvas had originally been folded over at the top some 5 cm and that the balance of the composition has been upset by the loss of a strip of canvas along the left-hand side.
Ferdinando Bologna. "A New Work from the Youth of La Tour." Burlington Magazine 117 (April 1976), pp. 437–38, dates it about 1621–23.
Richard E. Spear. "A New Book on La Tour [review of Nicolson and Wright 1972]." Burlington Magazine 118 (April 1976), pp. 233–35, suggests that the "Fortune Teller" may "pay some debt" to Commedia dell'arte imagery in France.
Pierre Rosenberg. "Benedict Nicolson and Cristopher Wright, Georges de La Tour, 1974." Art Bulletin 58 (September 1976), p. 453.
Erich Schleier. "Georges de La Tour: Essendes Bauernpaar Zu einer Neuerwerbung der Gemäldegalerie." Jahrbuch Preußischer Kulturbesitz (1976), p. 237.
Christopher Wright. Georges de La Tour. London, 1977, pp. 7, 150–53, ill. in color, notes that prior to being cut down, the picture's proportions would have resembled those of the recently restored "Cheat with the Ace of Clubs".
Edward J. Sullivan. "Jaques Callot's 'Les Bohémiens'." Art Bulletin 59 (June 1977), p. 220, compares the costumes of the women in Jaques Callot's series of prints "Les Bohémiens" to those of the gypsy women in the "Fortune Teller".
B[enedict]. N[icolson]. "'The Fortune Teller' at the Louvre." Burlington Magazine 119 (August 1977), p. 597.
Benedict Nicolson. The International Caravaggesque Movement. Oxford, 1979, p. 65 [2nd ed., rev. and enl. by Luisa Vertova, "Caravaggism in Europe," Turin, 1989, vol. 1, p. 135; vol. 2, colorpls. 894–95 (overall and detail)].
Martha Kellogg Smith. "Georges de La Tour's 'Old Man' and 'Old Woman' in San Francisco." Burlington Magazine 121 (May 1979), p. 294.
Howard Hibbard. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1980, p. 302, 320, 324, fig. 542 (color).
Christopher Wright and Diana de Marly. "Fake? 'The Fortune Teller' in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York." Connoisseur 205 (September 1980), pp. 22–25, ill. in color (overall and detail on cover), question the authenticity of the picture based on what they view as its psychological weakness, dissimilarity to most of La Tour's other work, suspect signature, and the inscription of the word "Merde" on the collar of the left-hand figure; find fault with numerous details of costume, and suggest that the face of the young man is in fact that of a woman—of about 1940.
John Pope-Hennessy. "Fake?" Apollo 112 (November 1980), p. 363, disputes views of Wright and de Marley [see Ref. 1980].
Diana de Marly. "Indecent Exposure." Connoisseur 206 (January 1981), pp. 1–2, describes the young man's hair as a "confused jumble which bears no relation to the way in which hair grows", adding that it is "far too short for 1630, by which time men's hair was down to the shoulders".
John M. Brealey and Pieter Meyers. "'The Fortune Teller' by Georges de La Tour." Burlington Magazine 123 (July 1981), pp. 442–44, ill. (color and x-radiograph), refute Wright and de Marley's claims [Ref. 1980], stating that scientific examination of the painting and tests carried out on its pigments have convincingly demonstrated that the work is of considerable age; give a detailed account of their findings.
Pierre Rosenberg. "'The Fortune Teller' by Georges de La Tour." Burlington Magazine 123 (August 1981), pp. 487–88, presents "conclusive proof" that the picture is not a modern forgergy in the form of an 1879 inventory, which lists "Un grand tableau signé G. de La Tour, représentant la Bonaventure"; notes that it is "inconceivable that a forger could have painted a false La Tour in the 19th century".
Brian Sewell. "'The Fortune Teller' by Georges de la Tour." Burlington Magazine 123 (September 1981), pp. 549–50, doubts evidence of Brealey and Meyers [Ref. 1981].
Pierre Rosenberg. "France in the Golden Age: A Postscript." Metropolitan Museum Journal 17 (1982), p. 29, no. 39.
Jean-Pierre Cuzin. "New York: French Seventeenth-century Paintings from American Collections." Burlington Magazine 124 (August 1982), p. 529.
Christopher Wright. "Opinion: Georges de la Tour Controversy." Connoisseur 208 (November 1982), unpaginated, opinion page.
"Art News: The Kimbell Art Museum." Connoisseur 209 (January 1982), p. 9, quotes Edmund Pillsbury, who states that in his view the scientific evidence "convincingly disproves the theories of both Diana de Marley and Cristopher Wright regarding the Metropolitan Museum's beautiful 'Fortune Teller'".
Richard E. Spear. Letter to Ralph T. Coe [Director of William Rockhill Nelson Gallery and Atkins Museum of Fine Arts]. March 26, 1982, describes CBS's coverage of the controversy surrounding the authenticity of the "Fortune Teller" as "irresponsible and misleading"; enumerates instances of CBS's "total disregard for readily-available evidence".
Philippe de Montebello. "Where '60 Minutes' Erred." Connoisseur 210 (June 1982), p. 16, ill., states that, together with Brealey and Pope-Hennessy, has no doubt whatsoever that the picture is autograph; suggests that the graffito "Merde" is evidently the work of a mischievous restorer, who connected several original decorative brushstrokes after isolating the original paint with a layer of varnish.
Hugh Brigstocke. "France in the Golden Age." Apollo 116 (July 1982), pp. 9–10, ill., states that recent cleaning has revealed the picture to be an undoubted original; reports that, according to [John] Brealey, the technique of the Louvre "Cheat" is identical to that of the Fort Worth version and the "Fortune Teller"; comments on the "deliberate artificiality of La Tour's visual language, at the opposite extreme of true genre painting"; tentatively dates the Louvre picture and ours to the early 1630s.
Sylvia Hochfield. "Can 'The Fortune Teller' be Trusted?" Art News 81 (Summer 1982), pp. 73–77, ill. in color, notes that Stella Blum, head of the Metropolitan Museum's Costume Institute, sharply disagrees with de Marley about the authenticity of the costumes in the "Fortune Teller," and has demonstarted her conviction that many of the costume details criticized by de Marley also appear in other works by La Tour of unquestioned authenticity.
Anthony Blunt. "French Seventeenth-Century Painting: The Literature of the Last Ten Years." Burlington Magazine 124 (November 1982), p. 705, states that the controversy surrounding the "Fortune Teller" seems to have been "definitely settled" in favor of the picture, by the discovery of a reference to it in an inventory of 1879, the technical evidence provided by the museum authorities, and the presentation of the picture next to the "Cheat with the Ace of Clubs" at the Grand Palais, which "proved beyond doubt that the two pictures are by the same hand".
Carl Goldstein. "Seventeenth-Century French Paintings." Art Journal 42 (Winter 1982), pp. 328–30, ill.
Pierre Rosenberg. France in the Golden Age: Seventeenth-century French Paintings in American Collections. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1982, pp. 75–76, 82–84, 256–59, 354, no. 39, ill. (overall in color and details) [French ed., La peinture française du XVIIe siècle dans les collections américaines, Paris, 1982], dates the picture between 1632 and 1635; doubts the inscription should be interpreted to mean that the picture was painted outside Lunéville and considers it more likely that it was destined for a patron outside the city; believes that if one of La Tour's "Cheats" was intended as a pendant to the "Fortune Teller", it must have been the "Cheat with the Ace of Diamonds" now in the Louvre; observes that in spite of certain "realist" passages, such as the head of the old gypsy, the work is by no means an accurate representation of the reality of seventeenth-century Lorraine.
Jacques Celier. "La diseuse de bonne aventure." Revue historique et archéologique du Maine 2 (1982), pp. 160–78, ill. (color), recounts his memories of seeing it in his family's homes, the châteaux de la Denisière and La Vagotière, and the circumstances surrounding its sale to Wildenstein.
Christopher Wright. The Art of the Forger. London, 1984, pp. 1ff., ill. (overall and details), recounts the picture's discovery, its acquisition by the Metropolitan Museum, and the author's attempts to demonstrate that the "Fortune Teller" and a group of pictures related to it are forgeries.
Pierre Rosenberg and Marion C. Stewart. French Paintings 1500–1825, The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. San Francisco, 1987, p. 64.
Federico Zeri. Behind the Image: The Art of Reading Paintings. New York, 1987, p. 85, fig. 23.
Wolfgang Prohaska. Georges de La Tour bei der Wahrsagerin. Exh. cat., Kunsthistorisches Museum. Vienna, 1987, pp. 1–16, ill. (overall in color on cover and detail), relates the picture's theme, and the moral of the "deceiver deceived," to the art of Caravaggio and his followers; notes, however, that La Tour's picture has none of the happiness and burlesque good humour of Caravaggio's "Fortune Teller" (Louvre, Paris); remarks also that the erotic undertone of Caravaggio's scene seems to have vanished, despite the attractiveness of La Tour's young gypsies; suggests that the resemblance between the central young woman and the male dupe makes the former's deception appear all the more "cold-blooded"; discusses the possibility that one or the other of La Tour's Cheats was conceived as a pendant to the "Fortune Teller"; notes that the "Cheat with the Ace of Diamonds" and the "Fortune Teller" are signed differently, and regards them as an unlikely pair; adds, however, that if the "Cheat with the Ace of Clubs" (Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth) seems to bear a stonger resemblance to the "Fortune Teller," it is perhaps because the two were recently restored by the same hand.
Philip Conisbee inThe Ahmanson Gifts: European Masterpieces in the Collection of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Los Angeles, 1991, p. 49.
Jacques Thuillier. Georges de La Tour. Paris, 1992, pp. 136–38, 142–47, 286–87, 296, no. 31, ill. (color, overall and details), observes the present work could be the "diseuses de bonnaventure" listed as no. 14 in the inventory of the Paris collector Jean-Baptiste de Bretagne.
Robert Gibbs. "The Art of Artifice [review of Zeri 1987]." Times Literary Supplement (January 24, 1992), p. 18.
Maurice Bernard inGeorges de La Tour ou les chefs-d'oeuvre révélés. Exh. cat., Églises des Carmes, Vic-sur-Seille. Metz, 1993, pp. 116–17, ill. (overall in color and x-radiograph).
Alain Mérot. La peinture française au XVIIe siècle. Paris, 1994, pp. 165–66.
Jean-Claude Le Floch. La Tour, le clair et l'obscur. Paris, 1995, pp. 8, 24–25, ill. in color (overall and details).
Philip Conisbee et al. Georges de La Tour and his World. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Art. Washington, 1996, pp. 67–69, 94, 152, 168, 172, 174, 176, 184–85, 196, 207, 246–47, 253–54, 268, no. 17, ill. (color, overall and details) and frontispiece (color detail), recognize no real analogy between La Tour's "Fortune Teller" and Caraveggesque painting, although the arrangement of the figures is "uncannily reminiscent" of an engraving after an early painting of the same subject by Vouet; connect the picture with a painting of the same subject in the collection of Jean-Baptiste de Bretagne in Paris, noting that the lengthy inscription suggests the picture was painted for an audience outside Lorraine; further speculate that it may have been painted in Paris; describe the costumes as "extraordinary creations", which ought not be taken as "straightforward transcriptions of authentic clothing in the Lorraine around 1630"; observe that the pattern of birds of prey and their victims on the old gypsy's mantle can be seen to echo the theme of the painting; suggest that the dirty fingernails of the young man may reveal that he is not quite what he purports to be; identify the "porcelain skinned" young woman as Preciosa, the heroine of Cervantes' "La Gitanella," noting, however, that the emphasis on thievery—absent from the novella—may be derived from pictorial and commedia dell'arte traditions; state that even if there is no direct evidence to support the conjecture that La Tour's "Fortune Teller" and one of his Cheats were conceived as pendants, "the subjects were conjoined in the minds of painters and collectors".
Paulette Choné. Georges de La Tour: Un peintre lorrain au XVIIe siècle. Paris, 1996, pp. 120–21, ill. in color, dates it "around the time of La Tour's visits to Paris, in the late 1630s" and connects it with the picture attributed to La Tour in the collection of Jean-Baptiste de Bretagne, described as "un grand tableau peint sur toile, représentant des diseuses de bonne aventure" [see Ref. Thuillier 1992]; suggests that this might explain the inclusion of the artist's town and region of origin in the inscription.
Jean-Pierre Cuzin. "Georges de La Tour, un caravagesque suspect: Réflexions à l'occasion de l'exposition de Washington." Journal des arts (December 1996), p. 23, fig. 6.
Paul Mitchell and Lynn Roberts. Frameworks: Form, Function & Ornament in European Portrait Frames. London, 1996, p. 435 n. 40a.
Jean-Pierre Cuzin and Dimitri Salmon. Georges de la Tour: Histoire d'une redécouverte. Paris, 1997, pp. 79–84, ill. (color, overall and details).
Jean-Pierre Cuzin inGeorges de La Tour. Exh. cat., Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais. Paris, 1997, pp. 59–60, 64, 71, 76–77, 150–53, no. 27, figs. 18, 31 (color detail), 39 (detail), ill. on cover (color detail), pp. 151 (color), and 152 (color detail), notes that there is general agreement that at an early date the canvas was cut twenty-five to thirty centimeters on the left and would originally have allowed more space for the figure of the pickpocket; adds that the picture's proportions would thus have resembled those of the recently restored "Cheat with the Ace Clubs" (Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth).
Robert Fohr Éditions Serpenoise. Georges de La Tour: Le maître des nuits. Metz, 1997, p. 48, ill. in color.
Pierre Rosenberg. La Tour. Milan, 1998, pp. 60–62, ill. (color, overall and detail), suggests that the moral of the scene is ennunciated in an inscription on a print by Callot: "vous qui prenez plaisir en leurs parolles, gardez vos blancs, vos testons, et pistolles"; notes that the left side of the canvas has been trimmed, and a 6 cm strip has been added to the top.
Jean-Pierre Cuzin. "Après l'exposition La Tour." Revue du Louvre 48 (June 1998), p. 62, figs. 13 a and b (color).
Jean-Pierre Cuzin inLe Saint Sébastien soigné par Irène de Georges de La Tour. Exh. cat., Musée des Beaux-Arts d'Orléans. [Orléans], , pp. 13–15, fig. 12.
Daniel Wildenstein and Yves Stavridès. Marchands d'art. Paris, 1999, pp. 152–62, explains some of the politics behind the purchase, sale, export, and defamation of the picture; states that it was cut at the left so that it would fit into its frame.
Bruno Ferté inLa luce del vero: Caravaggio, La Tour, Rembrandt, Zurbarán. Exh. cat., Galleria d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Bergamo. Cinisello Balsamo (Milan), 2000, pp. 100–102.
Mina Gregori inLa luce del vero: Caravaggio, La Tour, Rembrandt, Zurbarán. Exh. cat., Galleria d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Bergamo. Cinisello Balsamo (Milan), 2000, p. 33.
Andrea Kirsh and Rustin S. Levenson. Seeing Through Paintings: Physical Examination in Art Historical Studies. New Haven, 2000, pp. 106–7, 109, 273 n. 5, p. 274 n. 9, fig. 101 (color).
Anna Maria Bava. La buona ventura di Georges de La Tour e aspetti del caravaggismo nordico in Piemonte. Exh. cat., Galleria Sabauda. Milan, 2003, p. 8.
Paola Astrua. La buona ventura di Georges de La Tour e aspetti del caravaggismo nordico in Piemonte. Exh. cat., Galleria Sabauda. Milan, 2003, pp. 18–19, no. 1, ill. (color, overall, and detail on cover).
Joseph Baillio et al. The Arts of France from François Ier to Napoléon Ier. Exh. cat., Wildenstein & Co., Inc. New York, , pp. 51, 71, no. 10, ill., date it about 1630–34.
Jean-Pierre Cuzin inGeorges de La Tour. Exh. cat., National Museum of Western Art. Tokyo, 2005, pp. 202, 210, fig. 22 (color).
Pierre Rosenberg. Only in America: One Hundred Paintings in American Museums Unmatched in European Collections. Milan, 2006, pp. 98–99, 232, ill. (color).
Esmée Quodbach. "The Age of Rembrandt: Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 65 (Summer 2007), p. 22.
Lisa Monnas. Merchants, Princes and Painters: Silk Fabrics in Italian and Northern Paintings, 1300–1550. New Haven, 2008, p. 259.
Jean-Pierre Cuzin. Figures de la réalité: Caravagesques français, Georges de La Tour, les frères Le Nain . . . [Paris], 2010, pp. 163, 184–85, 188–89, 193, 198, 205, 215, 217–19, 235, 244, 259, figs. 193, 206, 249 a and b (color, overall and details), reprints Refs. Cuzin 1982, 1996, 1998, and 2005.
Dominique Jacquot inBohèmes: de Léonard de Vinci à Picasso. Exh. cat., Grand Palais. Paris, 2012, pp. 127–28, no. 13, ill. pp. 142–45 (color, overall and details).
Guillaume Kazerouni inGeorges de La Tour, 1593–1652. Ed. Dimitri Salmon and Andrés Úbeda de los Cobos. Exh. cat., Museo Nacional del Prado. Madrid, 2016, p. 19.
Dimitri Salmon inGeorges de La Tour, 1593–1652. Ed. Dimitri Salmon and Andrés Úbeda de los Cobos. Exh. cat., Museo Nacional del Prado. Madrid, 2016, pp. 52, 55, 128, 131, no. 18, ill. (color, overall and detail).
Richard Rand inGeorges de La Tour, 1593–1652. Ed. Dimitri Salmon and Andrés Úbeda de los Cobos. Exh. cat., Museo Nacional del Prado. Madrid, 2016, p. 96, under no. 5.
Nicolas Milovanovic inGeorges de La Tour, 1593–1652. Ed. Dimitri Salmon and Andrés Úbeda de los Cobos. Exh. cat., Museo Nacional del Prado. Madrid, 2016, p. 122, under nos. 16–17.
Pierre Rosenberg. "Georges de La Tour: Madrid." Burlington Magazine 158 (June 2016), p. 490.