The interior reveals an elaborately architecture decorated with paintings that touch on themes that archaeology put within our reach and that Alma-Tadema knew how to glean from the collections of the museums he visited. Architectural details and decorative motifs are meticulously reproduced, as can be seen in the column with its lotus flower decoration, one of the most commonly used motifs in ancient Egypt. In addition, his handling of the furnishings and other objects that appear in the room is notable, particularly the table where the game takes place, converted here into an important focal point of the action portrayed. The clothing and personal ornaments of the people who appear in this interior receive similar treatment. The artist also includes a view of the exterior, showing a garden with typical plants such as palm trees, enclosed within a wall, reminiscent of the wall paintings that decorate tombs that have survived intact until today. An essential atmospheric touch completes the scene, an intense blue sky that gives closure to the exterior.
An interesting contrast of light is created between interior and exterior, and the artist makes use of this to emphasize certain of the figures who participate in the scene, in particular the female figure who watches the game intently, certainly pondering over which moves the players should make.
It was painted in 1865, shortly after his first visit to London on the occasion of the International Exposition of 1863, where Alma-Tadema was fascinated by the objects from classic and Egyptian cultures that he saw at the British Museum. In addition to the technical virtuosity of this piece, which was recognized by no less than John Ruskin, one of the most eminent critics of the day, this piece is a good example of this phase of his career.


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