Caravaggio is a Baroque artist who lived between 1571 and 1610 and was active throughout cities such as Naples, Sicily, Malta and Rome.
He was active during a turning point in art history and was known for expressing the realism of humanity in his artwork.
There are two version of The Fortune Teller, the first one being painted circa 1594 and the second being painted circa 1595. They both are oil paintings done on canvas.
The first painting is currently on display at Musei Capitolini in Rome, while the second painting is kept at the Louvre in Paris.
The painting depicts what appears to be a wealthy man, who is foppishly dressed, having his palm read by a gypsy girl. Her attire is what makes her identifiable as a gypsy.
Enamoured by her femininity, the male doesn’t notice that the gypsy lady is removing a ring from his finger and that he is being robbed in the process of having his palm read.
When painting the first version of the Fortune Teller, Caravaggio reportedly found a gypsy girl from the street to pose for his painting, which was not the standard practice at the time.
He preferred to create art from reality, and wanted to demonstrate that he could paint from life instead of only drawing from inspiration from previous works from antiquity.
One of Caravaggio’s patrons, the Cardinal del Monte, was so impressed by the first painting that he commissioned Caravaggio to paint a version of the Fortune Teller for himself.
This second version is the one that is currently being held at Louvre, Paris. Also, in this second version, the model for the male in the painting is said to be Mario Minniti, who is Caravaggio’s companion.
The Fortune Teller is a fine example of how Caravaggio is able to paint from life and express realism in his artwork.