- Museum number
- Object: The Royal Gamesters ...
A version in reverse of BM Satire 81 with different identifications (see Comment). 1609
Etching and engraving
- Production date
Height: 258 millimetres (trimmed?)
Width: 362 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- The print is closely based, in reverse, on a Dutch satire of 1598-1600 by Petrus a Merica (Harms II.64; Paas PA - 308); see also a closer copy, 1871,1209.970, and another version by Thomas Cockson of c.1609, 1849,0315.10 (BM Satires 81). It has been described as a copy of the latter, but includes different details from each of its predecessors: the urinating dog appears in the Cockson print, but the cardinal's hat and the playing cards (see below) are the same as those in Petrus a Merica's print and 1871,1209.970. It is possible that the source was another, as yet unidentified, version of the composition.
(Text from Malcolm Jones, www.bpi1700.org.uk, "Print of the Month", January/February 2008)
... the cardinal - wearing the characteristic broad-brimmed hat now, not the bonnet - may represent Richelieu (despite the verses which remain unchanged and still mention Austria), the English king James I (d.1625) is replaced by Charles I, Henri IV of France (d.1610) by Christian IV of Denmark, and Christian IV of Denmark of the earlier version by Gustavus Adolphus, King of Sweden (1611-1632), while the Transylvanian war-leader Bethlen Gabor replaces Maurice of Nassau, Prince of Orange (d.1625). What can we say for certain about the date of this later version? The unmistakable likeness of the youthful crowned Charles I replacing James, provides a terminus post quem of 1625, and if the distinctive profile head of Bethlen Gabor is correctly identified, this provides the terminus ante quem, as he died in 1629.
Curiously, the engraver of this later, reversed image seems to have reverted to the cards of the original Petrus a Merica version, i.e. the card turned up on the table is certainly the Ten of Hearts, and the cards in the monk’s hand are the Five(?) of Diamonds, and a court card - this, of course, makes a nonsense of the details of the game of maw as given below the image, which remain the same as in Cockson’s version, but for the substitution of Denmarke for France in the relevant stanza.
Interestingly it is this later version of the composition (also in the Society of Antiquaries collection) which is the subject of what must be one of the earliest journal articles to concern a print, "A Political Caricature, temp. Charles I", in The Gentleman’s Magazine of July 1853.
A similarly reversed copy of a Merica’s original composition, which I have not seen, was issued in Germany in 1633.(Paas P-1920)
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number