The prototype of “Fortuneteller” is Carmen from the same name by Bizet, to whom Vrubel was carried away in 1892. He was inspired by the theme of fate, favorite in symbolism, destiny predestined.
Korovin told about the appearance of the picture: “Everyone was making a noise, talking, playing cards, arguing.” Mikhail Alexandrovich was asleep, the next morning he wrote from some lady whom he had met the day before, a portrait of her with playing cards. ” Vrubel wrote the “Fortune-Teller” on top of the portrait of the industrialist Nikolai Mamontov ordered to him.
According to the memoirs of Nikolai Prahov. who came to pose for Mamontov, the artist declared: “I can not write your portrait any more, I’m fed up with it.”
Fortune-teller is a symbol of Woman. It has a charm of beauty, naturalness and at the same time a certain mystery. Looking past the viewer, like a prophetess, she penetrates into the unknown future of man.
The controversy of light and shadow on the contrastingly illuminated face intensifies the dramatic and acute sense of the image. In coloring the pictures are cold and warm colors, interacting, enriching each other. Nobly and discreetly shimmered the flow of silk fabric against the background of a dull, muted carpet in color. The natural beginning in this work prevails.
A fantastic artist searches in the object itself – in a woman who has the gift to unravel the future of people.
The painting is painted on canvas with a dark gray primer light and long, not too pasty smear. A layer of paint, thin in the painting of the head and hands, becomes denser in the texture of the shawls and carpet on the wall behind the woman’s back.
“Fortuneteller” is close to the composition of the famous Kiev “Girl against the Persian carpet”, painted by the artist nine years earlier, but her refined painting is less material.