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Key facts
Full title A Gipsy telling a Peasant his Fortune in a Hilly Landscape
Artist Probably by David Teniers the Younger
Artist dates 1610 - 1690
Date made about 1640
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 163.2 x 215.3 cm
Acquisition credit Wynn Ellis Bequest, 1876
Inventory number NG949
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
A Gipsy Fortune Teller in a Hilly Landscape
Probably by David Teniers the Younger

Pictures of mysterious characters dressed in exotic clothing against a background of dangerously steep mountains and distant castles were very popular in seventeenth-century Flanders. The idea of the romantic wanderer caught the imagination, and inspired attractive narrative paintings that were open to interpretation.

Here, a group of nomads have stopped to rest on a bleak mountainside; one of them reads the palm of a passing peasant. We are left wondering if the little boy in the purple jacket is with the peasant or the fortune teller, and what he’s doing. A second man already disappears over the brow of the pathway, perhaps keen to avoid such interruption to his journey.

The painting is probably an early work by the highly successful genre painter David Teniers the Younger. It was later used as a design for a tapestry by J. van Bortch, in which the figures are seen in reverse.

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