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Description: *VICTOR GABRIEL GILBERT FRENCH, 1847-1933 THE HOROSCOPE signed Victor Gilbert (lower right) oil on canvas 33 1/4 by 46in. 84.5 by 116.8cm. The engagement of French art with contemporary life was a hallmark of the materialistic late nineteenth century. The Parisian artist Victor Gilbert received critical acclaim for his remarkably astute depictions of a cross section of Parisian society, shopping or strolling through the city's proliferating markets and parks. He is regarded as one of the greatest chroniclers of Les Halles, Paris' renowned fish and meat market, emerging in the 1880s as the primary Realist painter to record this Parisian landmark. Gabriel Weisberg observes that, "...Gilbert was familiar with Naturalist literature, especially with the novels of Emile Zola, he was aware of the author's view of Les Halles as a symbol of the dynamism and energy of Paris" (Weisberg, The Realist Tradition, Cleveland, 1980, p. 217). Just as Gilbert recorded the dynamism of Les Halles, like many of his contemporaries he also turned to images of leisure and entertainment, to the city's parks and suburbs capturing the exuberant new Parisian social life. The Horoscope is a true departure from the artist's images of fish sorting and meat markets, but ever the Realist, Gilbert is an observer, a true naturalist who faithfully records what he encounters. Here, Gilbert has depicted a group of fashionable young women who while away an afternoon gossiping and speculating on their future, by reading "love" lines in each other's palms. The Horoscope is illustrative of the same fascination that fellow Parisian artists James Tissot and Alfred Stevens had with la parisienne, exploring her new found sense of liberation and her complex interactions with the opposite sex.
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