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25 June 2016

'The Fortune Teller' by Caravaggio shows gypsy girl and dandy clothing of the 16th century; seen at Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza in Madrid

Recently, 'Caravaggio and the Painters of the North' opened on 21 June at Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza in Madrid (on view until 18 September). The exhibition is a great source for authentic costume depictions. Renaissance and baroque are the periods in art when the new interest in culture influenced even the visual portrayal of reality such as the naturalistic lineaments of the people's face expressions or the authentic presentation of clothing, shoes, accessories (like gloves) or headwear. On the canvases, women were shown in active, self-conscious roles and men's classic hero models were replaced by individual male personalities. The image on this page is from around 1595 and painted by the Italian master Caravaggio who is known for his realistic style. Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571 – 1610) was one of the main influencers of many following artists in the 17th century.

Curator Gert Jan van der Sman, professor at the University of Leiden and member of the Istituto Universitario Olandese di Storia dell'Arte in Florence, selected art works by painters of the European North for the exploration of Caravaggio's legacy. 12 of the exhibited 53 paintings are by Caravaggio. Among the Northern painters is also Peter Paul Rubens who travelled in 1601 to Rome where Caravaggio lived and worked at the turn of the century. Rubens was fascinated by Caravaggio's technique to incorporate light into his compositions and the Caravaggesque figure type of the young man with curly hair; the type of a seductive man was used by Rubens for the work 'Head of a young Man'. On, an introduction into 'Caravaggio and the Painters of the North' can be found.

fig.: 'The Fortune Teller' by Caravaggio (Michelangelo Merisi), ca. 1594-1596. Oil on canvas. 115 x 150 cm. Roma, Musei Capitolini, Pinacoteca. 'The Fortune Teller' depicts typical characters of Roman street life at the painter's time. There exists a second image of 'The Fortune Teller' which shows probably painter Mario Minniti who was Caravaggio's model for the above mentioned Caravaggesque figure type.

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