- Museum number
The Backgammon Players; interior of a tavern with two peasants playing backgammon, watched by two others; another man, holding a jug, looking out of an open leaded light window in left foreground
Pen and brown ink with watercolour
- Production date
- 1670-1672 (c.)
Height: 81 millimetres
Width: 73 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- Preliminary study for the etching (Hollstein 39), in reverse. There is a bistre study in reverse for this etching at Hamburg (22264), and the present drawing is probably based on it.
The 1995 Ostade Exhibition label text (exhibited with 1946,0713.167):
The watercolour is representative of van Ostade's work in the early 1670s. Working on a small scale and within a limited chromatic range, his meticulous technique has described every detail of the scene.
The composition is related, in reverse, to the artist's own etching, 'the Backgammon Players'. In addition to the Museum's own study for the man by the window, there is an indented drawing for the whole composition now in Hamburg (Kunsthalle).
Backgammon was depicted as an evil pursuit, not least because of the pun on the Dutch word 'verkeeren', meaning 'to play at backgammon', which in the adjectival use of its past participle, 'verkeerd', means 'wrong', 'perverse' or 'perverted'. A copy of the etching appears as an illustration in the song-book of 1716. The accompanying text, there translated, makes use of this play on words.
The second drawing (1946,0713.167), the 'Knife-Grinder', appears on the basis of style to have been made between 1653-1670, although a much later date of 1682 has been suggested for the related etching. A copy of the print also appears in the song-book of 1716. The image is there accompanied by a text in which the knife-grinder advertises his trade.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1995 Jan-Apr, BM, Ostade (no cat.)
2010 Aug-Dec, BM, 'Preparatory Drawings by Ostade and Teniers' (no cat.)
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number