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Pieter de Hooch (Rotterdam 1629-Amsterdam 1684)

Cardplayers in a sunlit Room Signed and dated 1658

Oil on canvas | 77.3 x 67.3 cm (support, canvas/panel/str external) | RCIN 405951

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The viewer in art is usually treated like the audience in a theatre – but not here. We seem to have wandered into the scene without its characters being aware of our existence, two with their back to us, all absorbed in their game. Instead of being dark and closed like a stage, the background becomes ever lighter and more spacious, as if the painting is a tantalising prologue to something more interesting beyond.

Acquired by George IV in 1825