This hitherto unpublished picture has been attributed to The Master of the Gamblers by Dr. Gianni Papi, in a letter dated 10 December 2012. Dr. Papi himself created the sobriquet for this anonymous Master in 1998, and has since grouped together more than twenty-five paintings that he considers to be by the same hand ('Il Maestro dei giocatori', Paragone, 18 (577), 1998, pp. 12-25). The first catalogue of The Master's work was compiled by Dr. Papi on the occasion of the 2006 exhibition, Il Genio degli anonimi. Maestri caravaggeschi a Roma e a Napoli, Milan, Palazzo Reale; and his activity has been rediscussed more recently in G. Papi, Il Maestro dei giocatori, anche maestro di temi musicali, in Caravaggio e la musica, Symposium Proceedings (Milan, 29 September 2010; published, Rome, 2012, pp. 188-99).
This artist was most probably active in Rome, and possibly also in Naples, during the second and third decades of the 17th century, and his oeuvre mainly consists of paintings of gamblers, foodsellers and other genre figures. There continues to be disagreement over the nationality of this anonymous artist. The strong influence of Ribera, Cecco del Caravaggio and Tommaso Salini seems to point to an artist working in Italy. On the other hand, Benedict Nicolson, when discussing a painting of the Gamblers attributed to the same hand (private collection) suggested a Netherlandish follower of Caravaggio (Caravaggism in Europe, ed. L. Vertova, Turin, 1990, I, p. 94; III, pl. 1030). Roberto Longhi had previously attributed the same picture of Gamblers to a Caravaggesque painter, probably French, close to Valentin. The general handling, colouring and the expressive nature of the sitter are all consistent with The Master of the Gamblers' work. Certain details, including the piece of paper on the ledge, the ragged robe, the model himself, recur in other paintings by The Master, such as the Card-players formerly with Gasparrini, Rome and the Fortune Teller, in a private collection in Brussels (G. Papi, Il Genio degli anonimi. Maestri caravaggeschi a Roma e a Napoli, exhibition catalogue, Milan, Palazzo Reale, 15 October 2005-28 February 2006, C.14 and C.16).