Dec. 24 Art Minute: Maître des Jeux, “The Family Dinner”

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Maître des Jeux (French, active mid–1600s), The Family Dinner. Oil on canvas, about 1645–48. 32 1/1x 43 in. Purchased with funds from the Libbey Endowment, Gift of Edward Drummond Libbey, 1946.28. Gallery 27

Maître des Jeux (French, active mid–1600s), The Family Dinner. Oil on canvas, about 1645–48. 32 1/1x 43 in. Purchased with funds from the Libbey Endowment, Gift of Edward Drummond Libbey, 1946.28. Gallery 27

This family portrait captures a scene of daily life in a French middleclass household. The servants, at either end of the table, are included, as is the family dog. The man and woman on the far side of the table gesture to the frugal meal of ham and bread, served on plain pewter plates, indicating their piously modest lifestyle.

Little is known about the “Master of Games,” not even his name (his pseudonym comes from his paintings of card players). His paintings are close in style to the Le Nain brothers, three Parisian artists known for their scenes of peasants and of everyday life, but were also influenced by Dutch artists of the same period.


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