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The Gamblers

The silver coins on the table lead us to believe the players have placed a bet on the game.

What does the expression on the young man’s face tell you about the outcome of the game? What do you think he is saying?

Unhappy with the way the game has turned out, the old man grasps his sword. Could the two other men be tricking him?

key idea
The Outcome of the Game

Let’s look at the table in the foreground of the picture. There we see dice, a deck of playing cards, and a pile of coins—all clues that some sort of game has just concluded. These items are the focus of the painting’s composition, as well as the subject of the men’s discussion.

The title of this painting is The Gamblers. This game was more than a friendly match. The silver coins show that the players are wagering on the game. Whom do you think is the winner of the bet? Who is the loser?

We can assume the older gambler has lost the game. The way he holds onto his glasses tells us he is closely examining the count of the dice. The younger man looks as if he is declaring himself the winner. The third man seems to be on the side of the young gambler. Their facial expressions seem a bit deceitful—one can’t help wondering if this game was played fairly.

The older man is probably wondering this as well. In fact, his left hand tightly clutches his sword handle. What do you think he will do next? Might he draw his sword and find a different way to settle this bet?

May 2008