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Valentin de Boulonge - The Counterfeiters

by Alexandra Tuschka

Uh oh! This doesn't look good for the boy on the right, who is trying so hard to land a trick with his cards. You can literally read the tension on his face. His opponent, another boy with a red, feather-adorned barrett, is in a better position. He already has a card up his sleeve that will surely win the game. A dark figure has crept up from the background and tipped him off by hand signals. Although his face is covered, the observer can easily see that this man is quite a bit older and has probably enjoyed a glass of beer or two. He has his hand on the handle of the epee - should the boy get on the two, the outcome of the game will be settled with weapons.

The pictorial motif shown here, including the light and shade, shows clear influences of Caravaggio, with whose work de Boulounge possibly came into contact in Rome. Boulonge, a native of France, created a startlingly sculptural work with his close-up composition. The ominous half-world figures we also see here are a recurring pictorial motif of the painter.

Valentin de Boulonge - The Counterfeiters

Oil on canvas, 1617, 137 x 95 cm, Old Masters Picture Gallery in Dresden


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