Smoke and Mirrors: The Conjurer

Hieronymus Bosch (1450-1516), the early Netherlandish painter showed a world full of tricksters in The Conjurer. The magician wears the tall hat of the ruling court while a Dominican monk steals the purse of the woman watching the illusion. Whereas Bosch depicts the wealthy and powerful as thieves, French Baroque painter Georges de la Tour (1593-1652) portrays the wealthy being robbed by the poor. In his genre painting, The Fortune Teller an old gypsy woman tells a vain young man his fortune while her companions steal his valuables. The fortune teller wears a distinctive robe decorated with birds of prey attacking innocent rabbits. Despite these warnings through time we continue to be fascinated by illusion. American Charles Joseph Carter (1874-1936) was a part of the Golden Age of Magic. Although he was a successful journalist and lawyer he chose to practice magic on the stage under the name Carter the Great. An astute marketer as well as an accomplished magician, Carter promoted himself through fine lithographed posters.