'A fortune teller with hunter and dogs'
A seated huntsman with his gun across his lap extends his hand to a palm reader, while a pointer lies at his feet and a spaniel stands over the day's catch. An encampment and donkeys can be seen in the background.
This antique oil painting takes its general composition from the works of Martin Quadal (1736-1811), a Czech born painter who travelled across Europe during his lifetime, specialising in large hunting and group scenes which were often marked by a vivid palette.
The inclusion of a fortune teller stems from a contemporary interest towards folklorist customs and Renaissance magic (fortune-telling had been outlawed in the late 16th century), particularly associated with gypsies at the time. Joshua Reynolds most famously used such figures, always in shade to emphasise their allure and mystery, in works such as 'A Fortune Teller' (1777-8).
The gesture of the clasped hands in our oil paintin, picked out by bright flesh-tone highlights and emphasised by the snout of the onlooking spaniel (forming an 'X' shape in the centre of the composition), imbues the scene with the air of a concupiscent tryst between the figures, broaching their respective societal and cultural thresholds, a popular undercurrent in eighteenth-century artworks. This is further echoed by the positioning of the gypsy encampment in the distance, held at bay by the compositional barrier of the foreground undergrowth that plants the huntsman within his own archetypal setting, while the dead game at his feet add to the danger and excitement of the meeting.
Oil on Canvas.