A. Kronfeld, Führer durch die Fürstlich Liechtenstein’sche Gemälde Galerie in Wien, Wien, 1931, p.126 No. 661 with star
E. Strohmer, Die Gemäldegalerie des Fürsten Liechtenstein in Wien; Wien 1943, ill. 55, p.100
A. von Wurzbach, Niederländisches Künstler-Lexikon, Wien 1906; Vol. I; p. 635/6
In 1585, when Antwerp fell under Spanish reign, the whole Hals – family (the famous portrait painter Frans Hals and Dirck, his younger brother) had to emigrate.
Frans Hals, is supposed to have been his brothers first teacher. Dirck Hals became a painter of small scale genre scenes. His main subjects were merry gatherings as well as domestic motifs. These genre scenes were very popular at that time and were first introduced by Willam Buytewech. Buytewech, Esaias van de Velde as well as his elder brother Frans, had the most notable stylistic influence on him. His rapid way of painting is influenced by his elder brother, whereas the elongated and slender figures show the influence of Buytewech.
Our painting presents a small gathering of two men and a women playing the tric trac game. They are assembled around a table in various postures. The man on the left, leaning on a chair, is looking at the beholder whilst the other man and the woman are concentrated on their game. As it is known that Dirck Hals was one of the few who painted from preparatory figure drawings which was rather uncommon at that time – the man sitting on the chair at the right, reminds of a preparatory drawing in the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam.
There is another painting with Tric-Trac Players in an interior by Dirck Hals, signed and dated 1626. It shows three men in an interior in accurate reproduced silk costumes gathered around a table. The interior seems to be composed around the playing figures. Another painting with three figures seated around a table, playing cards is An elegant card party. Which is closer to our painting concerning the setting. In the late 1620ies Dirck Hals had a collaboration with the architectural painter Dirck van Delen, for whom he supplied the figures.