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" Every day we should hear at least one good song , read one good poem , see one exquisite picture , and , if possible , speak a few sensible words . " Johann Wolfgang von Goethe "

Saturday, 28 September 2013

' The Fortune Teller ' Simon Vouet (French 1590-1649) Oil on canvas, circa 1620. National Gallery of Canada , Ottawa.

The Fortune Teller' Simon Vout ( French 1590-1649) Oil on canvas , circa 1620. National Gallery of Canada , Ottawa

This painting is Vout's response to Caravaggio's 'Gypsy Fortune Teller' and is altogether more theatrical . 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.

Simon Vouet (1590-1649) was a leading French baroque painter and an arbiter of taste for almost 20 years . The son of an artist, he settled in Italy in 1630 , living chiefly in Rome . His style shows an individual talent and a profound study of Italian painters especially Veronese . Vouet soon enjoyed high favour , including the patronage of Pope Urban V111. In 1627 he was invited back to France , where he became first painter, a position challenged only once , in 1640-42 , when he was brought into an artificial rivalry with Poussin. 

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