Bettelknaben


 


BARTOLOMÉ ESTEBAN MURILLO
Beggar Boys Playing Dice, 1668 - 1672





Murillo was the first to portray the ragged streetboys who roamed the streets of Sevilla. Though he did not have any criticism of society, he also did not romanticize poverty or misery.

All the rascals knew of his fondness for them and often dropped by his studio so he could create his paintings with many a fitting subject.

In this setting, the boy in front ponders the dices, musing quite seriously, while the boy with the curls seems to look at nothing in particular in a state of elegy. Only the boy in the middle shows more temperament as he is the one who has started the game and is really thriving in it (the play of light around him has some dynamics of more contrast, while the wall in the background disappears behind a slight summer haze). It also seems as if he already has won two or three larger coins lying beneath his leg, as he is about to roll the dice again with a gesture of triumph ...

Still, the passive looser is placed in a more pleasant light, together with a hairband and clothes which have slipped from his shoulder, revealing his beauty. Number three, the little one, is not participating in the game, yet he is the one who is favoured by the days to which, for all that he gets, he has got nothing to offer except his touching cuteness and a dreamy look in his eyes ...

The spirit of the city Sevilla could not meet the artist more purely than in their flower-like natural beauty of resting and looking.