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Attrib­uted to Rem­brandt van Rijn, Dutch, 1606-1669

Studies of a Smoker and a Group of Card Players, c. 1635-40 

This ener­getic sketch depicts two episodes: card play­ers and a smok­er light­ing his pipe in a fire. Sev­er­al cre­ative pic­to­r­i­al ele­ments bring this draw­ing to life. Notice the rapt atten­tion of the play­ers as their oppo­nent presents his card, his own facial expres­sion hid­den by his raised arm. Observe, too, the smok­er’s dis­card­ed jack­et and relaxed pos­ture, his right foot rest­ing side­ways on the ground. Such nar­ra­tive details point to Rembrandt’s author­ship, but some schol­ars have doubt­ed the attri­bu­tion based on what they feel is an incon­sis­tent appli­ca­tion of line. More research into Rem­brandt’s genre draw­ings is nec­es­sary to make a defin­i­tive judg­ment on this dynam­ic drawing.