Manfredi's rendition of deception in this picture is particularly poignant. The young man, so intensely curious about his future, is oblivious to the theft of his money by the fortune-teller's accomplice. The fortune teller herself, so eager to captivate the young man's attention, does not notice that his friend is relieving her of a chicken. It is perhaps less a moral lesson that is given here than a matter-of fact pessimistic description of human relationships. Manfredi used dark tonalities to give the scene a sense of a seedy locale, while the life-size scale of the figures makes them part of our world and allows us to participate in their drama.
Artist Bartolomeo Manfredi, Italian, 1582-1622
  • The Fortune Teller
Date ca. between 1616 and 1617
Medium oil on canvas
Dimensions Unframed: 48 1/8 × 60 13/16 inches (122.2 × 154.4 cm)
Framed: 62 1/2 × 75 × 4 inches (158.8 × 190.5 × 10.2 cm)
Credit Line Founders Society Purchase, Acquisitions Fund
Accession Number 79.30
Department European Painting
On View European: Medieval and Renaissance W220, Level 2 (see map)
October 24-25, 1977, sold by (Nouvel Hôtel des Ventes, Lyon, France) auction; [as Regnier]
1979, (Heim Gallery, Paris, France);
1979-present, purchase by the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)
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