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Speed Art Museum will Bring Caravaggio's "The Fortune Teller" to the United States this May
Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, The Fortune Teller. Photo: Scala/Art Resource, NY. Pinacoteca Capitolina, Musei Capitolini, Rome, Italy.

LOUISVILLE, KY.- The Speed Art Museum announced today that it will bring Caravaggio’s pivotal work, The Fortune Teller, to the United States this May. The painting rarely travels and this will mark only the second time the work has ever been on view in the U.S. The Fortune Teller is considered one of Caravaggio’s most important early paintings and depicts a Gypsy girl reading the palm of a young man as she surreptitiously slips a gold ring from his finger. The work will be on loan from the Capitoline Museums in Rome, Italy.

The Fortune Teller will be the centerpiece of a focus exhibition at the Speed May 18 through June 5 that explores the influence of the Italian master on other artists working in Italy, Flanders, and the Netherlands during the early 17th century. Caravaggio’s emphasis on heightened realism and the sculptural qualities of his figures, often brightly lit against a dark background, are evident in works from the Speed’s collection such as Gerard Douffet’s Ecce Homo, Nicolas Tournier’s Dice Players, and Hendrick van Somer’s Saint Jerome. The diffusion of Caravaggio’s style throughout Europe can be seen in the two other works from the Speed’s collection also included in the exhibition: Rembrandt’s Portrait of a Forty-Year-Old Woman, possibly Marretje Corneliszdr. Van Grotewal and Johannes Cornelisz Verspronck’s Portrait of a Man.

The exhibition of The Fortune Teller in the U.S. has been organized by the Speed Art Museum in association with the Foundation for Italian Art & Culture in New York (FIAC). Additional assistance was provided by the Italian Cultural Institute of New York and National Gallery of Canada. The Speed Art Museum is deeply grateful for this loan from the Capitoline Museums and Picture Gallery.

As a gesture of gratitude to the Capitoline Museums and the Italian Government, the Speed and the FIAC have made it possible for The Fortune Teller to be exhibited at the Italian Cultural Institute of New York from May 11 through May 15. A symposium on Caravaggio at Hunter College of the City University of New York on Friday, May 13 from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. will also be part of the festivities surrounding the visit of the painting to the United States.

Dr. Charles L. Venable, Director and CEO of the Speed Art Museum remarked about the Caravaggio project, “We at the Speed are thrilled to be working with our international partners to bring to America this early masterpiece by one of the most revolutionary painters in the history of European art. The presentation of The Fortune Teller is part of our new Masterpiece Series and an outgrowth of our commitment to enhancing the art experiences we bring the public—which includes a major expansion of our facility as well as new acquisitions, loans, and collaborations with cultural partners. Having the opportunity to work with FIAC to present the work in New York as well as our community is deeply gratifying.”

Following the closure of the exhibition in Louisville, Caravaggio’s The Fortune Teller and the Speed’s Dice Players by Nicolas Tournier will travel to Ottawa where they will be on view in the National Gallery of Canada’s upcoming exhibition, Caravaggio and His Followers in Rome, on view in Ottawa from June 17 through September 11, 2011.

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