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Alexander Voet I

(c. 1613 – c. 1673, Antwerp)

The Card Players. Engraving after Cornelis de Vos. 34.8 x 43.2 cm. (1632). Hollstein 17.

The scene is set with splendid exuberance. Richly dressed men are seated at a long table on which are placed a silver wine jug, a tray with a wine glass and other inanimate objects, and there is every indication that a card game is in progress. The costly silks and satins of the players’ clothing gleam as they catch the light. On the right a handsome young man with long curls and a dashing musketeer’s moustache and an attractive young woman snuggle up together as they study their cards. A greyhound observes the proceedings with interest. The warning words of the six-line poem that acts as a caption help us to understand what is really happening. What we are seeing are not just any card players, but the prodigal son, who is squandering his worldly possessions in bad company. Gambling, loose women and wine lead to perdition.

A technical masterpiece, Voet’s engraving reproduces a paint­ing by Cornelis de Vos, which is now in the National Museum in Stockholm. Voet, who as an engraver was a member of the Rubens school, worked all his life in Antwerp, where he joined the Guild of St. Luke in 1628. Stylistically his prints are very close to the engraving style of Paulus Pontius, whose pupil he may have been.

A superb, sharp and rich impression with even margins around the platemark. Without the date (1632) mentioned by Hollstein. Minor defects and signs of use, otherwise in excellent con­dition.

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