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The Gamblers

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?

Hendrick Ter Brugghen
Dutch, 1588-1629
The Gamblers, 1623
Oil on canvas
Minneapolis Institute of Arts
The William Hood Dunwoody Fund

The Outcome of the Game
Realism and Light
Cleaning up The Gamblers

Dialogue Development: 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.  

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.  

Fun and Games: Check out other works of art at the MIA related to sports and games using ArtsConnectEd. Reorder the online collection according to the kinds of activities you see. Click here to view the collection. Click here to learn more about ArtsConnectEd.  

See the Real Thing: Visit the museum to see the recently cleaned and restored painting. Now on view in Gallery 312.  

May 2008