- Museum number
Credulity; interior of a kitchen, with seated woman, a plate of meat falling from her lap and a letter on the floor beside her, being told her fortune by a woman carrying a child on her back who looks in through an open window, to left, a cat stealing a fish from a bowl, in the background, beyond fireplace, a man stealing from an open cupboard. 1808
Watercolour, over graphite
- Production date
Height: 611 millimetres
Width: 461 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- This watercolour came into the collection with the title 'The Fortune Teller' but in his thorough discussion of this large work, David Solkin notes it was exhibited in 1808 under the title 'Credulity' and accompanied in the catalogue with the lines 'When Love's epistle its sweet tale explains,/Time flies untold, and wild confusion reigns.' It was reviewed at length by the engraver John Landseer in 'The Review of the Publications in Art' (no. 2, 1808, pp. 187-8), where he noted that the kitchen maid's countenance is filled with delight occasioned by the receipt of a letter from her lover, which has fallen to the ground when the gypsy in the window catches her attention. The letter is legible and contains the words 'Sweet Angel', 'Bride' and 'happi[ness]' and is dated 1807. In addition to the various thefts of which she is unaware, by the fish and the gypsy's companion at the cupboard, the cuckoo strikes twelve but the rabbit is still unskinned and the fowl unplucked. The artist Heaphy held Evangelical beliefs similar to those of the moralist tractarian, Hannah More, who described in one of her tracts how a fortune teller was continually practising on the credultiy of silly girls to cheat and deceive them - here the young woman is holding a shiny coin she is about to give to the gypsy. For further discussion and the context of this watercolour in the work of Heaphy and his contemporaries, see the extensive discussion in David Solkin, 'Painting out of the Ordinary: Modernity and the art of everyday life in early nineteeth-century Britain', Yale, 2008, pp. 92-97.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1808 Society of Painters in Water Colour
2005 Feb-April, London, Dulwich Picture Gallery, 'The Triumph of Watercolour'
2005 May-Aug, Manchester, Whitworth Art Gallery, 'The Triumph of Watercolour'
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- This item has an uncertain or incomplete provenance for the years 1933-45. The British Museum welcomes information and assistance in the investigation and clarification of the provenance of all works during that era.
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number