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Willem Duyster, Two Men playing Tric-trac, with a Woman scoring

Key facts
Full title Two Men playing Tric-trac, with a Woman scoring
Artist Willem Duyster
Artist dates 1599 - 1635
Date made about 1625-30
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 41 × 67.6 cm
Inscription summary Signed
Acquisition credit Bought, 1893
Inventory number NG1387
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Two Men playing Tric-trac, with a Woman scoring
Willem Duyster

Two men concentrate on a game of tric-trac, a form of backgammon, while a woman chalks the score on the side of the board. Meanwhile one man sits smoking, lost in his thoughts, while another lights a pipe from a bowl of embers. None of them is speaking and nor do they look at one another; all the interaction happens on the board.

Willem Duyster’s quiet scene does not have an obvious narrative but it is a satisfying composition. He paints four of the figures in profile but each is distinctive, and he enlivens what could be a static gathering by arranging the central figures in a circle and leading the eye around them. He not only skilfully depicts the way light falls on silks but also dresses his figures in subtle tones that do not break the atmosphere of gentle conviviality and reverie.

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