A Gypsy Encampment

The title given to this painting in the Cartwright Inventory illustrates the belief, still current in the seventeenth century, that Romani people originated from Egypt (the word "gypsy" is a sixteenth century corruption of "Egypt"). The painting combines elements of the known and of the fanciful. Clearly nomadic, the travellers are surrounded by the domestic detritus associated with gypsies although the three turbaned men look distinctly oriental. A date palm - quintessential sign of the exotic - occupies the foreground of an otherwise rather vague landscape.