(b. 1591, Maubeuge, d. 1667, Venice)
Cardsharps and Fortune Teller1623-26
Oil on canvas, 174 x 228 cm
Szépművészeti Múzeum, Budapest
This complex, multi-figured composition, uniting the themes of cardsharps and gypsies, is an anthology of motifs selected from the works of Manfredi and Valentin, but it has a more sumptuous and sensual air than either.
In a dark Roman inn, evoked by the ancient slab of stone, a sinister group of low-life types - a soldier, a muffled thief, courtesans, gypsies who seem to symbolize the perils of the world and the flesh - fleece two fashionable gulls. One falls prey to gypsies, while a young courtesan peers at the cards of his companion, signaling to a soldier accomplice, who has a card hidden in his palm.