What is going on in this picture? If we take a careful look at the figures body language and facial expressions, we might assume a confrontation is taking place. The young man on the left appears to be saying something. His gaze is focused on the older gentleman across from him. Further in the background another young man seems to want to be part of the action.
What might be the topic of the disagreement? To figure that out, move your eyes to the older man. He isn’t looking at the boy, but instead is peering at the table. He must be looking very carefully because he is holding up his spectacles. Notice too that the other men’s hands are also pointing at the table. What could this be about?
KEY IDEA ONE
The Outcome of the Game
KEY IDEA TWO
Realism and Light
KEY IDEA THREE
Cleaning up The Gamblers
Did you know that paintings, just like pets, cars, and clothes, need to be cleaned from time to time? Cleaning a painting is a very delicate procedure. Time, expertise, and research are required to prevent any damage to the art during the process. A conservator, a person specially trained to care for art, does this work.
Ter Brugghen’s The Gamblers recently spent some time at the Getty Conservation Center in Los Angeles, California. While at the Getty, the painting received an extensive makeover. X-ray images of the painting showed several areas that needed special attention. Two strips of canvas had been added to the sides of the original painting, probably to make it fit within a specific frame. Conservators removed these strips so the painting was returned to its intended size.
The Gamblers received a thorough cleaning. Layers of overpainting and discolored varnish were removed from the painting. Eventually, the richness of the original colors and shading were revealed.
Part of the conservation procedure involved taking full X-rays of the painting.
Take a closer look at the strips of canvas that were added at an unknown date. It is believed this was done to fit the painting into a specific frame.
The men in The Gamblers are obviously in a dispute. What is the young man saying to the elder gambler? How would the older man respond? Create a dialogue between the characters in the painting.
A Little Inspiration
Ter Brugghen was an admirer of the great Italian artist Caravaggio. Look at Caravaggio’s painting The Cardsharps from the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas. How is this work of art similar to The Gamblers? What differences do you see? Write a short essay comparing and contrasting the two paintings.
Fun and Games
Check out other works of art at Mia related to sports and games using the search tool on Mia’s website. Click on artworks that interest you to find out if they are on view at present, and, if so, what galleries they are in. Then, visit Mia to see them in person. To request a school group tour, use our easy online request form
Flip the Page
Picture this painting as just one illustration in a larger story. What happened before? What will happen next? Add to the story by drawing the next scene.