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Work Card Players in an Opulent Interior

Department of Paintings: Dutch painting

Card Players in an Opulent Interior

© 1992 RMN / D. Chenot

Paintings
Dutch painting

Author(s):
Collange Adeline

The painting dates from about 1663 to 1665, the early years of the artist's Amsterdam period. The card game is a pretext for amorous flirtation. Note that the woman, doubtless of easy virtue, has cheated and is holding all the aces.

The game of love

A couple is sitting comfortably in front of an imposing marble fireplace, playing a game of cards. A young servant is approaching rather timidly with a carafe to refill the glass of a third figure, who is talking to the young woman card player. In the background, a couple is taking advantage of the golden shadows to enjoy a moment of intimacy. Without a doubt, the scene is set in a house of pleasure where young men could discreetly enjoy the company of accommodating young ladies. Here, love is a game that may be cheated at like any other, as the hand proudly displayed by the beautiful courtesan-four aces-seems to suggest.

The art of perspective

During his time in Delft, from 1653 to 1663, Pieter de Hooch was deeply influenced by the color and strict lines of the art of Carel Fabritius, who also influenced Vermeer. However, he developed a personal style that proved a success, basing his compositions on a colorful, artful use of perspective, with figures fitting harmoniously into the overall scheme. His works are subtly illuminated with lateral sources of light and often feature a series of rooms leading from one to the next. The lines of the marble floor tiles draw the viewer's attention to the vanishing lines of the painting. The spatial elements opening onto the exterior-windows and half-open doors-are punctuated by a contrasting play of light, accentuating the lines and volumes.

A painting from the artist's Amsterdam period

Pieter de Hooch left Delft to settle in Amsterdam in about 1663. The new surroundings led him to experiment with a different style and new subjects. He gradually left behind the intimate scenes of daily life of his Delft period, such as the Woman Preparing Vegetables in the Back Room of a Dutch House, also in the Louvre, moving on to works depicting the contrived luxury of the homes of the wealthy bourgeoisie. The splendor of the garments worn by the elegant figures is matched by the richness of the setting, with the red-and-blue marble fireplace, the rich fabric of the exotic tapestries, and the walls hung with gilded leather skins. The range of Pieter de Hooch's inspiration was expanded by the succession of worldly, flirtatious scenes, but his talent as a colorist is as delightful as ever. The intense scarlet and gold colors of the courtesan's satin and brocade gown are picked out in details elsewhere in the composition: in the decorative gilded leaf patterns on the walls, the young beau's cape, and the Oriental rug in the background. These brighten the softer shades of green, blue-gray, and ochre that give the scene such delicate nuances of light-similar, though in a different vein, to the poetic use of light in the art of Vermeer.

Bibliography

Sutton Peter C., Pieter de Hooch, 1629-1684, London, Yale university press, 1998-1999, pp. 26-28.
Sutton Peter C, Pieter de Hooch, complete edition, Oxford : Phaidon, 1980, pp. 93-94.


Technical description

  • Pieter de HOOCH (Rotterdam, 1629-Amsterdam, 1684)

    Card Players in an Opulent Interior

    Circa 1663-65

  • Oil on canvas

    H. 67 cm; L. 77 cm

  • Purchased at the Tolozan sale, Paris, 1801

    INV. 1373

  • Paintings

    Richelieu wing
    2nd floor
    Holland, second half of the 17th century
    Room 38

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Additional information about the work

Signed P. D. HOOCH