The Gambler


Holbein, Initial X, Gambler T he gambler was added in the 5th edition in 1547.

Death grabs one of the gamblers by the neck/collar with one hand, while pushing away a devil with the other hand. The gambler to the left tries to intercede on behalf of his friend, while the gambler to the right uses the opportunity to clear the table.

Caravaggio: The Calling of Matthew

The picture is a close copy of Holbein's dance of death-alphabet (picture to the right). The difference is that in the alphabet, Death and the Devil are content with arguing behind the back of the gambler — he's not in an immediate danger. But in the great dance of death, Death grabs the gambler.

At the end of the same century, 1599-1600, Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio used the image of the young man collecting coins for his own painting, "The Calling of Matthew" (picture to the left).

Birckmann, Man trapped behind the Devil Variations: Birckmann lays an hourglass on the floor in front of the table; a fourth gambler is trapped behind the devil, so that he's barely visible (picture to the right). Valvasor, Hollar and Deuchar follow Birckmann.

Various Artists

Holbein (1547)
Holbein 1547: Gambler
Köln (1548)
Köln 1548: Quentel E
Birckmann (1555)
Birckmann 1555: Gambler
Scharffenberg (1576)
Scharffenberg 1576: Gambler
Chytraeus (1590)
Chytraeus 1590: Gambler
Kieser (1617)
Kieser 1617: Gambler
Hollar (1651)
Hollar 1651: Gambler
Thomas Neale (1657)
Thomas Neale 1657: Gambler
Manni (1675)
Manni 1675: Gambler
Valvasor (1682)
Valvasor 1682: Gambler
Erbaulicher Sterb-Spiegel (1704)
Erbaulicher Sterb-Spiegel 1704: Gambler
Mechel (1780)
Mechel 1780: Gambler
Deuchar (1788)
Deuchar 1788: Gambler
Bewick (1789)
Bewick 1789: Gambler
Anderson (1810)
Anderson 1810: Gambler
Hollar (colour) (1816)
Hollar (colour) 1816: Gambler
'Mr. Bewick' (1825)
'Mr. Bewick' 1825: Gambler
Bechstein (1831)
Bechstein 1831: Gambler
Schlotthauer (1832)
Schlotthauer 1832: Gambler
Douce (1833)
Douce 1833: Gambler
Curmer (1858)
Curmer 1858: Gambler
Deuchar (1887)
Deuchar 1887: Gambler