Peasants playing cards by a white horse

Philip Wouwerman
1619 – Haarlem
Pleasants playing cards by a white horse
Oil on panel 35.6 x 32.4 cm

Description
Philips Pauwelsz. Wouwerman(s) (1619-1668) was one of the most versatile artists of the seventeenth century. In his home town of Haarlem, Wouwerman made highly esteemed horse pictures which were in demand during his lifetime, but even more sought after in the 18th century.
 
The painter was born in Haarlem in 1619 as son of the now unknown painter Pauwelsz Joostz Wouwerman (ca1580-1642). He probably learned the rudiments of his crafts from his father, who according to Houbraken was a ‘history painter of moderate skill’ (van geringe sort) According to Cornelis de Bie he studied with Frans Hals. But no evidence in sources or style is found.
Wouwerman joined the local guild of St Luke in 1640 and here he took several official posts in the years to come. He married against the will of his parents the catholic Anna Pietersz van Broeckhoff with whom he had at least nine or ten children of which only two died young. Wouwerman also worked as a real estate agent, he possessed and sold a lot of houses and grounds in the Haarlem region. After the death of their mother in 1670 the children all inherited a substantial sum of money.
In his early artistic career Wouwerman was influenced by Pieter van Laer (1592-1642) one of the famous Bamboccianti who returned from Rome to Haarlem in 1638. This group of mostly
 
Dutch artists working in Rome depicted street scenes. After the death of Van Laer, Wouwerman acquired his drawings according to Houbraken. (A. Houbraken, De groote schouburgh, (1718-21). Vol. II, p. 71). In this pictures Van Laers influence is seen in the figures.
An almost identical version of the present painting, signed by Philips' brother Jan Wouwerman (1629-1666) is in the Princely Liechtenstein collection, Vaduz (For this picture by Jan Wouwerman see R. Baumstark, Masterpieces from the Collection of the Princes of Liechtenstein, 1980, p. 231, reproduced figure 103. Or W. Bernt, The Netherlandish Painters of the Seventeenth Century, III, 1970, no. 1425, illustrated.)
 
This painting raised the enormous sum of 310,500 USD at the 1998 sale in New York.