Art/ Collection/ Art Object

A Couple in an Interior with a Gypsy Fortune-Teller

Jacob Duck (Dutch, Utrecht, born ca. 1598–1600, died 1667 Utrecht)
ca. 1632–33
Oil on wood
Oval, 9 7/8 x 13 in. (25.1 x 33 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Richard W. Levy, 1971
Accession Number:
Not on view
In this early work of about 1630–35 Duck adapts a subject found in pictures by his older Utrecht colleagues, such as Dirck van Baburen, to a scale and setting typical of Amsterdam genre painters like Pieter Codde and Willem Duyster.
Inscription: Signed (lower right, beside fireplace): DVCK
Louis, chevalier de Jaucourt, Paris (until d. 1779; as "Le Petit Manteur," by Durc); [D. A. Hoogendijk, Amsterdam, in 1932; as "De waarzegster," by Johan le Ducq]; R. H. Ward, London (until 1934; sale, Frederik Muller, Amsterdam, May 15–17, 1934, no. 119, as "Bohémienne disant la bonne aventure à une jeune fille assise dans un intérieur où l'on voit encore un officier," by J. Duck); [Galerie Sanct Lucas, Vienna, 1934; sold to Lundström]; Erna Lundström, Malmo, Sweden (1934–69; sale, Arne Bruun Rasmussen, Copenhagen, May 7–21, 1969, no. 483); [Brian Koetser, London, in 1970; sold to Feigen]; [Richard L. Feigen, New York, until 1971; sold to Levy]; Dr. and Mrs. Richard W. Levy, New Orleans (1971)
Amsterdam. D. A. Hoogendijk. "Zeldzame Meesters uit de 17de eeuw," June 15–July 15, 1932, no. 27 (as "De Waarzegster [the Fortune-teller]," by Johan le Ducq).

Lund, Sweden. Skånska Konstmuseum. "Gamla Holländare I Skånska Hem," November 15–December 6, 1953, no. 18 (as "Hos Spåkvinnan," lent by E. Lundström, Malmö).

London. Brian Koetser Gallery. "Exhibition of Paintings by Old Masters," October 14–December 1970, no. 2 (as "An Interior," by Duck).

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Age of Rembrandt: Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art," September 18, 2007–January 6, 2008, no catalogue.

Sylvie Béguin. "Pieter Codde et Jacob Duck." Oud-Holland 67 (1952), pp. 114–115 n. 18, as "La Bohémienne disant la bonne avonture" [sic]; compares it with paintings by Duck dating from about 1630–35.

Gamla Holländare I Skånska Hem. Exh. cat., Skånska Konstmuseum. Lund, 1953, p. 18, no. 18, gives the apparently mistaken information that E. Lundström bought the painting on November 18, 1933, from the Galerie Sanct Lucas, Vienna.

John Walsh Jr. Letter to Mr. and Mrs. Levy. June 6, 1971, states, "the old woman seems to be a gypsy palm-reader (that doesn't rule out her being a procuress, too!)".

John Walsh Jr. "New Dutch Paintings at The Metropolitan Museum." Apollo 99 (May 1974), pp. 344, 346, 349 n. 11, fig. 8, calls it "Couple with a Gypsy Woman" and dates it to the early 1630s; discusses the subject, noting "the old gypsy woman seems to be telling the girl's fortune . . . although she may be a procuress," and interpreting the fireplace as a reference to love; compares it to a drawing of a gypsy woman by Duck in the Mussen für Kunst und Kulturgeschichte, Lübeck.

Peter C. Sutton. A Guide to Dutch Art in America. Grand Rapids, Mich., 1986, p. 187, fig. 265, questions the identification of the old woman as a procuress, suggesting instead that she is a gypsy and stating, "the gentleman client would hardly look so bored if the transaction were of a prurient sort".

Daniëlle O. Kisluk-Grosheide. "Dutch Tobacco Boxes in The Metropolitan Museum of Art: A Catalogue." Metropolitan Museum Journal 23 (1988), pp. 201, 207 n. 7, figs. 2–3 (overall and detail), suggests that the open tobacco box, clay pipe, and folded paper containing tobacco on the floor to the lower right may be symbolic since tobacco was considered an aphrodisiac.

Nanette Salomon. Jacob Duck and the Gentrification of Dutch Genre Painting. Doornspijk, The Netherlands, 1998, pp. 128–29, 147, no. 27, fig. 118, colorpl. VII , as "Gypsy Fortune Teller (The Procuress)"; calls it Duck's earliest treatment of a gypsy subject, and considers it close to his bordello scenes of the early 1630s in which the "contrast of physiognomic types is strongly reminiscent of the Utrecht Caravaggisti"; relates it to the Lübeck drawing [see Ref. Walsh 1974] and the engraving by Patour [see Notes].

Walter Liedtke. Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2007, vol. 1, pp. x, 182–84, no. 41, colorpl. 41, dates it about 1632–33.

An engraving after our painting by Jean-Augustin Patour (born 1746) is in the collection of the MMA (53.1000.2553, 9 1/2 x 12 5/8 in. [image]). The composition has been altered into a rectangle and a drawing of a man's head in profile has been added over the mantle. The engraving is dedicated to M. le Chevalier de Jaucourt, when it was in his collection: "Dedié à Monsieur le Chevalier de Jaucourt, Gravé d'après le Tableau original de Durc [sic] qui est de même grandeur tiré de son Cabinet / Par son très humble et très Obeissant serviteur J. Aug. Patour / A l'avis chez l'Auteur rue S. Jacques vis a vis le College de Louis le Grand / la Porte Cochère à côté d'un Libraire et d'un Epicier."

The painting has been related to a drawing of an old gypsy woman (Museen für Kunst und Kulturgeschichte, Lübeck) and a painted tavern scene (formerly private collection, Sweden) which repeats the figure of the leaning man (see Lund 1953 and Walsh 1974). Both works are by Duck.
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