Komelj AHAS 4angl

Miklavž KOMELJ
The double meaning of Almanach's Card-players I
The paper considers the painting Card-players I, a work by an enigmatic Flemish painter, Almanach, who was active in Carniola in the second half of the 17th century. This painting is one of the best 17th century pieces surviving in Slovenia.
The existing results of scholarly research into Almanach and his oeuvre are rather inadequate, and even that which has been established about his work so far raises rather than answers a number of art-history questions, including the problem of basic attributions themselves. The present paper leaves aside these problems, concentrating instead on one of the paintings only, Card-players I, trying to interpret its contents and symbolic meaning. The picture's already observed concealed symbolism, inherent in the north-European painting of the 17th century, is here linked with the meanings suggested by the concrete compositional and lighting structure of the painting as well as by the mutual resemblance of several of the figures depicted. The paper remains within the sphere of drawing attention to some of the characteristics of the painting and hinting at several possibilities for its reading (pointing also to the evaluation of resemblance between human faces as presented in 1690 in a book by the Jesuit Paolo Segneri) which, for the time being, cannot be elaborated into provable conclusions; the aim is primarily to raise new questions, and to draw attention to the formulative level of Almanach's painting.