An elegantly dressed couple consult a fortune teller near a ruin in a mountainous landscape. The fortune teller has one bared breast and carries a small child, to whom another child offers flowers. The refined lady in a yellow satin dress is having her palm read by the fortune teller, who predicts the future. The contrast between these two women is striking. Around them, several peasants rest while a man plays the recorder, a mother removes fleas from her child, and two figures cook something in a pot over a fire at left. Fortunetelling was strongly associated with deceit, and therefore frowned upon in the seventeenth century. Here it is clear that these city-dwellers should not be mixing with country folk. The elegant lady in a satin dress, who is very precisely painted, derives from the work of Gerard ter Borch (see for example New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, acc. no. 17.190.10).
Jan Steen (Leiden 1626 - 1679 Leiden)
The Fortune Teller
Material und technische Daten
59.7 x 73.5 cm
rechtsonder: J. Steen
M.J. Roelofs Thijssen, Amsterdam, 1891; his sale, Amsterdam, 26 October 1891 (Lugt 50212), no. 58 (for 2,500 guilders to Preyer); Preyer Gallery, Amsterdam; Baron Königswärter, Vienna, 1906; his sale, Berlin (Schwartz &Schulte), 20 November 1906, no. 86 (13,500 marks); August Janssen, Amsterdam; Jacques Goudstikker Gallery, Amsterdam, 1919; P.W. Janssen, Amsterdam, 1926; M.J. IJzerloo, Rijswijk, 1941; P. de Boer Gallery, Amsterdam, 1941; M.F. de Vries, Amsterdam, 1941; G.B. Lanz, Laren, 1941; D. Katz Gallery, Dieren, 1941; H. Posse; Adolf Hitler, Führermuseum, Linz; Stichting Nederlands Kunstbezit (inv. no. NK 2727); on loan to the Centraal Museum, Utrecht, before 1952-after 1977; on loan from the Cultural Heritage Agency of The Netherlands for the Prince William V Gallery, 1992-2010; transferred, 2010; exhibited in the Prince William V Gallery, The Hague, since 2010
This painting is part of the Netherlands Art Property Collection (‘NK collection’): objects that were stolen, seized or purchased during the Nazi regime. After the Second World War they were placed under the administration of the Dutch State. In recent decades, applications for restitution are taken into consideration again and some objects have been returned to the heirs of their rightful owners.
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