LA TOUR, Georges de
(b. 1593, Vic-sur-Seille, d. 1652, Luneville)

Fortune Teller

Oil on canvas, 102 x 124 cm
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Georges de La Tour depicted a Caravaggesque genre scene popular in the first half of the 17th century: a young cavalier (the prodigal son) robbed by three women.

This celebrated painting, which was only discovered in the middle of the twentieth century, catches the moment when a wealthy young man, distracted by having his fortune told by an old gyspy woman, is robbed by her companions. The costume and composition may have been influenced by a theatrical scene, but such cautionary images, made popular by Caravaggio, were painted throughout Europe in the seventeenth century. Although scholars have debated whether the artist had seen Caravaggio’s work in Rome, the inscription in the right corner includes the name of the town where the artist lived in northeastern France.