In 1654 Rembrandt focused on a series of prints depicting Christ’s youth (see lots 35, 36, 37, 38 & 39). While adhering to the same horizontal plate format, this present depiction of an old Netherlandish game is the only print of a secular subject that he made that year. The game shown here was called klossen (now known as beugelen), and was played in klossenbaantjes (ringball alleys), that were usually to be found at inns. The rules involved iron hoops and knocking your opponent’s ball into the gutter, like an indoor version of croquet. The figure in the foreground appears to be relaxing away from the drama of the game behind him, although the lack of refreshment on the table and his slightly despondent demeanour suggests he may be an early victim of the competition that continues without him.
The present impression is superior to the Cracherode impression of the first state in the British Museum.