Two boys are sitting in a dark room playing draughts, while a few others look on. The boys are dressed in the latest Italian fashion and evidently belong to the upper class.
Michael Sweerts came from Brussels, but made this painting in Rome, where he lived for some time. Many of his paintings have a mysterious atmosphere, created by the contrasts between light and dark, and often by the unclear situations he painted.
lower right, on a folded letter: Michael Sweerts / fecit añ 1652 / Roma
John Everett Millais, England; his sale, London (Christie’s), 1 May 1897 (Lugt 55329), no. 99 (150 pounds); bequest of Cornelis Hoogendijk to the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, 1912 (inv. no. SK-A-2574); on loan from the Rijksmuseum, since 2000
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