Reading Tea Leaves by Harry Herman Roseland
Reading Tea Leaves by Harry Herman Roseland Reading Tea Leaves by Harry Herman Roseland Reading Tea Leaves by Harry Herman Roseland Reading Tea Leaves by Harry Herman Roseland Reading Tea Leaves by Harry Herman Roseland
Reading Tea Leaves by Harry Herman Roseland

Reading Tea Leaves by Harry Herman Roseland

  • American artist Harry Roseland composed this exceptional genre painting
  • The work captures a tea leaf reader looking into the future for her young client
  • Such works were highly popular at the turn of the century and remain prized today
  • From the Oprah Winfrey Collection
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Item No. 30-9011
Price: Available upon request
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description
Harry Herman Roseland
1867-1950 | American

Reading Tea Leaves

Signed and dated "Harry Roseland 99" (lower right)
Oil on canvas

An elderly fortune-teller and her youthful client are the subject of this exceptional genre painting by American artist Harry Roseland. The work is part of an important series of wizened tea leaf and palm readers that the artist composed around the turn of the century. The nostalgia and charm of these works made them wildly popular in their age, with many being reproduced as postcards or full-color prints in local newspapers. Entitled Reading Tea Leaves, the present painting is a superb example of the genre.

Roseland perfectly juxtaposes his two subjects in the carefully composed scene. Young versus old, innocent versus wise, privileged versus poor, the two figures nevertheless come together in their quest for knowledge. The young client is dressed in pinks and reds, most likely hinting that she is enquiring about her love life. They comfortably lean towards one another in a quiet and intimate moment, studying the pattern of leaves and the future they foretell.

Brilliantly framed in the canvas, the work is sentimental and nostalgic, revealing the skill for narrative that made Roseland one of the finest genre painters of his generation. The self-taught artist was a lifelong resident of Brooklyn, New York, though his works belied the modernity of the city. Instead, he filled his canvasses with farm hands, watermen, and rural fortune tellers such as this one, expressing a wistfulness for the past that charmed his clients. He also won critical acclaim in his lifetime, earning gold medals from the Brooklyn Art Club, the Boston Art Club, the American Art Society in Philadelphia, and others.

Dated 1899

Canvas: 25" high x 30 1/8" wide
Frame: 30 3/4" high x 35 3/4" wide

Provenance:
From the Oprah Winfrey Collection
M.S. Rau Antiques, New Orleans, 2019
specifications
Period: 1816-1918
Origin:America
Subject:Genre
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