Gypsy Fortune Teller

Bartolomeo Pinelli

  • Gypsy Fortune Teller 2
  • Gypsy Fortune Teller 3
Basic information
Bartolomeo Pinelli
Gypsy Fortune Teller
Date of creation
etching watercolor
Dimensions (height x width, cm)
10 x 16
Information about author
Bartolomeo Pinelli
Artist's lifetime
Bartolomeo Pinelli (1781, Rome – 1835, ibid.) was an Italian painter, engraver, and sculptor. He was a son of the ceramist J. B. Pinelli. Bartolomeo Pinelli was born in ​​Trastevere district (over the River Tiber). Street sketches of that western suburb of Rome repeatedly appeared in his graphic works later. He studied in Bologna, later on – at Accademia di San Luca (Academy of Saint Luke) in Rome. He attended the studio of Felice Giani, an Italian painter of the Neoclassic style, from whom he inherited the style of drawing. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, Bartolomeo Pinelli took an interest in the engravings of the Renaissance, namely in the works by Marcantonio Raimondi, and started making etchings and lithographs out of his drawings. In 1809, Pinelli created his first series of watercolor etchings – Collection of 50 picturesque costumes (Raccola di cinquanta costumi pittoreschi). The album was reissued in 1814 and 1815. In 1816, a new version of the album under the title Nuova Raccolta di Cinquanta costumi pittoreschi incisi di acqua forte was released. Most of Lviv's engravings are from this series. The main theme of the artist's creative work is genre scenes (Costumi), which he saw in Rome, Naples, as well as the provinces of Abruzzo and Molise. Pinelli's engravings have not only artistic value but also important ethnographic information. In the 1820s and 1830s, the artist created drawings and engravings for poems by Torquato Tasso (1827–1829) and the novel “Don Quixote” (1834) by Miguel de Cervantes. One of Pinelli's famous series of drawings is Seven Hills of Rome (Sette colli di Roma) (1827–1830). The artist's works are housed in many Italian museums as well as in collections of other countries.
Object description
The composition is known in two variants. The first one was performed for the album Raccolta di cinquanta costumi pittoreschi (Collection of fifty picturesque costumes engraved in strong water) published in 1809 in Rome, which depicted three young people – one of them was a horseman on a horseback, the other two were standing next to a gypsy woman telling fortunes to one of them. The action was taking place in an architectural background. This composition was later reissued in color in Leipzig in 1840 under the title La zingara che indovina in Roma. The second version from the album Nuova Raccolta di Cinquanta costumi pittoreschi incisi di acqua forte published in Rome in 1815, which was replicated in 1817, is simpler – there is no architectural background, only two young men and a horse are in front of the fortune teller. The Lviv composition dated 1816 is a simplified version of the second variant. The drawing is not as detailed as in the engraving from the album dated 1815. The author pays more attention to the color scheme and contrasts of blue, red, and yellow colors. The artist focuses on the process of fortune telling itself. A gypsy woman is trying to prove something to a young man by reading his hand. The second young man is looking at his colleague's hand and not at the fortune teller, as shown in the engraving dated 1815. The second gypsy woman is the same age as the fortune teller, not an older woman, as shown in the etching from the album. In the so-called Lviv version, B. Pinelli demonstrates a qualitatively new composition – light, dynamic, and not overloaded with details.
In the lower right corner there is the author’s signature Pinelli written in italics and followed by an illegible inscription. In the center of the engraving under the image there is the work’s title La zingara che indovina. There is a number "26" in the upper right corner above the plate.