Valentin de Boulogne, ‘Soldiers Playing Cards and Dice (The Cheats)’, ca. 1618/1620, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
overall: 121 x 152 cm (47 5/8 x 59 13/16 in.)  framed: 145.1 x 187 x 11.4 cm (57 1/8 x 73 5/8 x 4 1/2 in.)

Image rights: Courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington

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About Valentin de Boulogne

Though little is known of Valentin de Boulogne’s early life, he is considered one of most devoted French followers of Caravaggio. De Boulogne joined a society of foreign artists while in Rome known as Bentvueghels, or “Birds of a Feather.” He also had a close working relationship with Nicolas Poussin, with whom he was frequently compared. Though de Boulogne painted biblical scenes, allegorical images, and portraits, he is best remembered for his genre scenes of merrymaking characters enjoying music, drinks, and games in taverns. These were in part inspired by Bartolomeo Manfredi’s genre paintings, and rendered with Caravaggesque chiaroscuro. Anecdotes report that de Boulogne passed away at his early age after contracting a fever after a night carousing at a tavern.

French, 1591-1632, Coulommiers, France, based in Rome, Italy