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The Fortune Teller, from The Italian Village Scenes series
The Fortune Teller, from The Italian Village Scenes series
Not on display
Wool, Silk; Tapestry Weave
335.3 x 317.5 cm (132.5 x 125 in.)
Object Type:

The tapestry belonged to the William C. Whitney collection, New York. It was in the James Henry Smith sale, American Art Association, New York, 18-22 january, 1910, no. 244.

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Roscoe and Margaret Oakes Collection

The Italian Village Scenes series was Boucher’s proving ground in tapestry design and gave early indication of his decorative skill. The caryatid supporting the ruins represents Pan, god of shepherds and flocks, for his attribute, the syrinx, hangs on a nearby tree. He presides over a scene of fortune-telling in which an exquisite shepherdess has her palm read by a gypsy. The shepherdess is dressed in pale pink silk with a yellow overshirt. She wears a bow around her neck, and another bow decorates her houlette. The gypsy’s feet are bare and her blue underskirt is ragged. The hem of her lavender dress has been tucked up and her hair is covered by a scarf; the baby on her back is held by a blanket. Six sheep occupy the right corner. Three other figures appear in the composition. The young woman beside the shepherdess is only partially visible. Seen in profile, she wears a lavender-pink dress with voluminous sleeves and has a red ribbon in her hair. She watches the gypsy intently. The two young people at left concentrate on a game of their own. The young man in a blue coat holds a wreath of small flowers and leaves over the head of his smiling, barefoot companion. A garland trails across her lap. She is barefoot. The strong vertical accent of the Pan caryatid stabilizes a diagonal buildup of rocks, ruins, and vegetation. A vaporous sky in shades of blue and gray fills in the background. The borders are sewn on, suggesting that the panel may have been woven without them and intended to fit into boiseries. From Anna Gray Bennett, "Five Centuries of Tapestry: The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco" (San Francisco: Chronicle Books; The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, 1976; repr. 1992): p. 270.