July 30, 2010

Gypsies: Then or Now

Here's The Fortune-Teller by Georges de la Tour from about 1630. A suspicious but stupid young toff is having his fortune told by the old crone while the three young confederates pick his pockets. The girl in profile on the left looks particularly Roma-ish, although the girl who is cutting off the mark's medal (watch?) looks Dutch.

Or then, again, as a 60 Minutes episode in 1982 argued, this picture that the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC bought at great expense in 1960 could be, appropriately enough, a 1920s forgery.

It does look rather like a Norman Rockwell magazine cover, although Rockwell would have changed the color schemes of the dresses to make the old lady's hands stand out better against the background. The odd thing about this painting from about 1630 is that it's kind of funny (granted, it's not that funny), and few things stay funny for more than a century or so.

De La Tour had been virtually forgotten until the 20th Century, so, like Vermeer, he would be a logical target for forgers: the provenance of even the most authentic De La Tour would be less certain than, say, a Leonardo, because Leonardo has been hugely famous ever since the later 1400s.

Then again, as the Met has strenuously argued, it might be authentic.

In any case, it's a fun painting.

24 comments:

John Craig said...

It's probably just coincidence, but both Gypsies and Jews have a five letter word starting with the letter "g" to refer to outsiders: "gadje" in the case of Gypsies, "goyim" in the case of the Jews.

Their attitudes towards outsiders are not entirely dissimilar.

In Israel there was a case recently in which a Jewish Israeli accused a man she had had consensual sex with of rape after finding out that he was in fact a Muslim (he had originally told her he was Jewish). The three judges in charge of the case sided with he woman and convicted the man of rape.

This case was covered by The Guardian but as far as I know it was not reported by any American media. Hmm.

Anonymous said...

I've never spoken with a Gypsy, even in Europe. I wonder often they assimilate and marry outside of their tribe?

I am married to a Jew, and obviously I know her family pretty well. John Craig's assertion that Jews and Gypsies share a similar attitude towards outsider is way, way off the mark.

The Jews I know, Reform, highly educated, and completely assimilated do not look upon the United States as a place to prey on "goys." In fact, I attended a funeral for Korean War veteran last month, the Rabbi was there and the Air Force honor guard. These people are as mainstream, patriotic, and God fearing as any Christian family you'd ever meet. About 2/3 of folks there were Jewish. The rest of us non-Jews had married in or were friends.

Now tell me how they're like Gypsies again.

Ray Sawhill said...

http://tinyurl.com/2wvwcen

Roger Chaillet said...

I remember the Gypsies.

I was studying at a branch of an American university in Rome. My classmate and I had traveled to Florence. We were in the piazza next to the Duomo when Bonnie was robbed. A crowd of Gypsy kids had swarmed around her. Then they took off running. It was then that Bonnie realized they had stolen her passport (picked her pocket). She began yelling, "Polizia!"

A few minutes later the police came running. Shortly thereafter they brought the alleged perps with them. The perps had Bonnie's passport in their possession.

It's a cliche, but true.

Gypsies will rob you and then flee.

Whiskey said...

Gypsies abhor education, Jews embrace it. Gypsies stay outside of particularly, American life. Jews embrace and assimilate, particularly in America. Gypsies rarely out-marry. Jews outmarry so much they are disappearing. Jews are synonymous with deeply assimilated, pro-American institutions, particularly the golden era: Hollywood of "Yankee Doodle Dandy" with Jimmy Cagney, and Comic books with Superman and Captain America. Jews are totally SWPL and Gypsies, whatever else they may be, are certainly not SWPL.

Anonymous said...

John Craig does have a point.

Jews are high-functioning Gypsies.

Anonymous said...

Jewish folks have excessively liberal political views, but are otherwise highly productive and conscientious citizens. If they'd start advocating for America the same policies they advocate for Israel, they'd be hands down the best ethnic group we have. They've contributed disproportionately to the business, artistic, and intellectual life of this country. As people, I admire their intelligence, wit, and drive. As individuals, I've never had any problems with Jewish-Americans.

Gypsies are nothing but a degenerate Euro-Indian-Mid Eastern hybrid of thieves, bums, mentally retarded criminals, prostitutes, and vagrants. Wherever they went, they seem to have interbred and absorbed the worst genes possible. Gypsies, unlike Jews, never had a desire for their homeland because, left to their own devices, they'd starve.

Realistically, Europe should put these people in mental asylums and pay them to sterilize themselves.

Gypsies are anti-Jews.

Anonymous said...

This board is divided between those who have a cartoonish, exaggeratedly sinister view of Jews and those who actually know Jews.

James said...

I too was robbed by gypsies in Italy, though in my case (1984) it was near the Colosseum in Rome (which in those days, unknown to me, was a recognized Gypsy haunt - I don't know if it still is). The Gypsies were clever little sods, I thought I'd concealed my money well enough to thwart them, but I hadn't. Fortunately I was able to retain my passport.

The police, when I reported the theft of cash, gave the Italian equivalent of a Gallic shrug. As if to say "Well, what do you expect, wandering round a Gypsy-haunted place like the Colosseum?"

Anonymous said...

It's the difference between getting pick-pocketed on the streets of Europe as a tourist, and getting bled dry incrementally every day as a subject of the financial system.

John Craig said...

My analogy would have been better had I specified "Orthodox Jews."

I remember getting lost while driving in Brooklyn once and stopping to ask directions. The first two people I asked wouldn't even stop to answer my question. This is the only time this has ever happened to me in my life; my wife later explained to me that they were Orthodox Jews who wanted nothing to do with outsiders.

Yes, I have known plenty of Reform Jews who are well integrated, but even with them, there tends to be a vast disparity between the liberalism they advocate for the US and the policies they support for Israel. The disparity is not always there, but it's often there, and whenever it is, it's striking.

I never said that Jews and Gypsies were similar in IQ or position in society. Ashkenazis in this country are well known to average something on the order of 108-110 IQ's, and Gypsies are obviously subnormal in that regard. Jews are obviously the most successful goup in this country and Gypsies the most unsuccessful on the Continent.

It is in their attitude toward outsiders that there is a similarity. There is a strong us vs. them attitude that they inculcate. The Gypsies have that story of Christ on the cross which they use as justification for stealing from the gadje. The Jewish people have the Talmud, which specifies one set of behaviors towards other Jews, another toward outsiders. I'm sorry, but there is a similarity in attitude there. Again, I'm not saying that this is true of every Jewish person, but it's impossible not to notice a correlation.

I'd never say EVERY Jewish person has this attitude any more than I'd say ALL black people support Barack Obama. But if you don't notice correlations and average differences it's only because you're willfully obtuse.

Templar said...

This board is divided between those who actually know Jews, and those who are Jews.

Fixed.

SFG said...

"It's probably just coincidence, but both Gypsies and Jews have a five letter word starting with the letter "g" to refer to outsiders: "gadje" in the case of Gypsies, "goyim" in the case of the Jews."

You know just about every primitive culture has a word for themselves that means 'the real people', right?


"Now tell me how they're like Gypsies again."

Both were stateless peoples in Europe for a while.

"This board is divided between those who have a cartoonish, exaggeratedly sinister view of Jews and those who actually know Jews."
Well, yes, and no. Your odds of getting bopped over the head by Josh Goldberg from finance are slim to none. A lot of the people here don't like what the disproportionately but not majority or even plurality Jewish elite of this country is doing.

I am, however, convinced that the elite would be trying to screw over the people even if there were no Jews. It's just what elites do.

Anonymous said...

when i was in india, my driver pointed with contempt a family squating by the roadside. "gyspies' he said, and he clearly didn't like them.

My PC litmus test for liberals is 'what do you do when you see a gypsie in rome" - if they babble some incoherent answer about always being careful with anyone when they travel, I know they are not grasping reality.

Incidentaly, guide books no longer warn of 'gypsies' they simply give a generic 'robbers' - pc not only makes you stupid but leaves your wallet lighter.

Dan J said...

Back to the painting: Why has the old woman not grabbed the young man's hand to read his palm? That would keep him from leaving, distract him further, and prevent him from noticing he's being robbed. Has the artist never had his palms read or is this some other way of fortune-telling?

Anonymous said...

"Gypsies stay outside of particularly, American life"

Yeah, there's that large unassimilated Gypsy community in the US that I've always heard about. It's almost like they're Syrian Jews or something.

Frankly, Jews and gypsies do not seem different in terms of their relationship with outgroups. Both have traditionalist xenophobic subsets. You can argue that there is a difference of relative scale, but the idea that there's an essential difference is one I'm skeptical of. I doubt they're more or less likely to assimilate to a society that offers them the same relative opportunity.

One of the things that is interesting to me about gypsies is that their economic roles relative to Europeans are similar to those of many Middle Eastern groups relative to Middle Easterners (various tinkering - Middle Eastern Jews were tinkers AFAIA).

Anonymous said...

Here's the proof that there is no relationship between Irish traveller tinkers and Roma.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AZPH14zZi9M&feature=related

Here is some Irish Traveller Fighting (ITF)According to the youtube caption Paddy Ward is an Irish Traveller boxer from Galway. He's the guy wearing all black. His opponent in this fight is Barney McGinley, a 27 year old Longford native. These 2 men are considered the top dogs in Irish Traveller Fighting (ITF).
This is a great fight and a fantastic start to Irish Traveller Fighting. It was for the vacant ITF Heavyweight Championship.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qNj3H_MpDh0

wren said...

Bosch and Bruegel did paintings with details that remain funny, for a particular humor, anyway.

When I hear Jews vs Gyspies, I'm reminded of this scene.

Both doomed in this particular context.

Svigor said...

This case was covered by The Guardian but as far as I know it was not reported by any American media. Hmm.

That story is pure gold. If he'd misrepresented himself any other way, she'd have been laughed out of the police station, much less court. But since she jumped into the sack within hours of meeting an Arab who misrepresented himself as a Jew, rather than a Jew who misrepresented himself as wealthy, educated, connected, etc., the charges stuck.

Svigor said...

Gypsies abhor education, Jews embrace it. Gypsies stay outside of particularly, American life. Jews embrace and assimilate, particularly in America. Gypsies rarely out-marry. Jews outmarry so much they are disappearing. Jews are synonymous with deeply assimilated, pro-American institutions, particularly the golden era: Hollywood of "Yankee Doodle Dandy" with Jimmy Cagney, and Comic books with Superman and Captain America. Jews are totally SWPL and Gypsies, whatever else they may be, are certainly not SWPL.

The main difference contributing to the different historical paths of Gypsies and Jews seems to be IQ.

Jews assimilate, all right; they assimilate others into their mindshare. Jews intermarry less than other groups, as do gypsies. Jews are synonymous with subversion on an ethnic scale (the "golden age" is simply one data point on a downward trend; similarly, cancer patients can all look back to a "golden age" when their cancer wasn't terminal). Jews aren't SWPL, SWPLs are Jews. SWPLs hate their ancestors, and Jews hate SWPLs ancestors, too. Jews have an ethnostate, for God's sake; how much can they really have in common with SWPLs?

Svigor said...

These people are as mainstream, patriotic, and God fearing as any Christian family you'd ever meet. About 2/3 of folks there were Jewish. The rest of us non-Jews had married in or were friends.

Er, I call sleight of hand. Your Jewish in-laws are not representative of American Jewry. American Jews are demonstrably not as mainstream, patriotic, and God-fearing as mainstream Americans.

People can find some data on Jews, you know. The rates at which they believe in God and join the armed forces and feel warmly about flyover America are all either readily available, or readily divined from clues.

Don't get me wrong, there's no way in hell I'd join the US armed forces and I don't believe in God.

P.S., much, if not most, of American Jewish patriotism is actually Jewish ethnocentrism in disguise; it's pretty easy to drive a wedge between the two and separate them.

ATBOTL said...

"Now tell me how they're like Gypsies again."


Jews have a long history, in America and other countries, of being disproportionately involved with profit making activity that the host society considers immoral or illegal, such as prostitution, pornography, gambling, alcohol sales, high interest loans, "rent to own" retailers, insurance fraud("Jewish lightning") and frauds and scams of all kinds. Any person who has done research into Jewish history, whatever their background or views on the Jewish question is aware of that.

The predatory outsider identity is probably not as strong in modern American reform Jews as in Eastern European Gypsies. Also, the 35 point IQ gap might have something to do with the surface differences between the two groups. Purse snatchers and stock market swindlers are both thieves after all, but otherwise are very different.

TGGP said...

Euroweenie pro-Roma propaganda.

L. Ibido said...

This is a fun painting and they are looking very beautiful. They all are gypsies which are very nice. I also enjoyed while doing anything with painting.