French, 1590 ‑ 1639
Dice Players, about 1619 ‑ 1626/1627
Oil on canvas
47 5/16 × 67 1/2 in. (120.2 × 171.5 cm.)
Gift of the Charter Collectors 1987.12
Care to Take a Roll of the Dice?
Look at this picture and imagine yourself crowded into a dark pub, surrounded by people. It is noisy, with raised voices or even music playing in the background. The group of men in front of you are playing a game of chance. One of them—a soldier—looks up and notices you. There is an open seat available at the table. Would you choose to watch, or would you join in the game? Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571 – 1610) was a revolutionary Italian artist whose innovative manner of painting and choices of subject matter would influence a generation of young painters like Nicolas Tournier. These artists favored a bold, even harsh, realism in capturing their subjects—note the dirty fingernails! The use of theatrical lighting and expressive gestures further heighten the drama.