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Life in Borgia - the fortune teller, from the portfolio 'An Odyssey'



Salvatore Zofrea


24 Sep 1946 -


The series 'An Odyssey' consists of 20 woodcuts and title page. An edition of 10 was printed by Jenny Pollack in 1989 and hand-coloured by the artist. The gallery has an artist's proof set before hand-colouring. 'The Odyssey' recounts the experiences of the artist's parents, Guiseppe (1909-86) and Teresa Zofrea née Garigliono (1905-75). Guiseppe migrated to Australia without his family in 1949, and was not to see them until they joined him in Sydney in 1956. 'Life in Borgia - the fortune teller' is based on the artist's memories of carnival time in his home town.

"Every year a man playing a piano accordion would come to town with a boy who wore a cape and carried a little green parrot in a cage. Below the floor of the cage was a drawer full of playing cards. The music of the accordion would rouse up the women and children from their houses - the men would be out in the fields, far from the scene - and the women would pay to have their fortunes told. The little lime-green parrot would crawl along its perch taking sideways steps in a calculating kind of way, and then it would lean over and reach into the drawer. It would pick out a card with its beak, and the woman's fate would be written there. The card my father's mother drew just before his birth, to be a totem or coat-of-arms, was the horseman setting out on a mysterious journey - the Traveller". (Sally McInerney, 'The journeyman, a story of migrant life, a series of woodcuts by Salvatore Zofrea', Sydney: Picador, 1992)

Hendrik Kolenberg and Anne Ryan, 'Australian prints from the Gallery's collection', AGNSW, 1998




Media category


Materials used

woodcut, black ink on white Arches paper


artist's proof


42.0 x 47.5 cm blockmark; 56.9 x 66.7 cm sheet

Signature & date

Signed l.r., pencil "ZOFREA". Not dated.


Purchased 1994


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Salvatore Zofrea

Works in the collection


Shown in 1 exhibition

Exhibition history

Referenced in 2 publications


Glenis Israel, Artwise: visual art 7-10, 'Chapter 2: Humanity', pg. 69-100, Milton, 2013, 71 (illus.).

Hendrik Kolenberg and Anne Ryan, Australian prints from the Gallery's collection, Sydney, 1998, 16 (illus., image in reverse, detail), 17, 123 (illus.). 104