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A Young Man and a Girl playing Cards
Follower of Rembrandt
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We are in the middle of a card game. One figure stares directly at us, a look of apparently benign amusement on his face as he holds his hand close to his chest. By contrast his opponent is focused intently – perhaps even short-sightedly – on her hand, deliberating on how to play next. Judging from the coins spilling out of the man’s purse onto the table, there seems to be money at stake.

Card playing was a controversial activity in seventeenth-century Holland, associated with laziness, greed, deceit and a lack of chastity, and artists often hinted at these themes in their paintings. However, whether there is an erotic charge or a moral message behind this picture is far from certain. The coins might be taken as suggestive of a commercial exchange, but there are no other hints of potential seduction or illicit love. Recent scientific analysis of the painting suggests that it was probably produced in Rembrandt’s workshop, most likely by a pupil.

Key facts
Artist Follower of Rembrandt
Artist dates 1606 - 1669
Full title A Young Man and a Girl playing Cards
Date made perhaps about 1645-50
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 123.5 x 104 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1888
Inventory number NG1247
Location in Gallery Not on display
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