Between 1530-60, painters in Flanders produced a series of paintings including tennis being played in the formal garden of a Renaissance palace with scenes from the story of David and Bathsheba. There are apparently 11 paintings in existence (and one preparatory drawing) of which the following are known:
Lucas Gassel (attributed to), Duke of Palmela Collection, Lisbon (34.3 x 45.7 cm)
Lucas Gassel, Dr. Restrelli Collection (90 x 115 cm); Signed and dated “LG 1540”
Jan van Amstel, The Marylebone Cricket Club, London (52 x 73.6 cm); Signed “Jan”
Andreas Ruhl, Lord Aberdare/Bruce family (50.7 x 66 cm); Signed “AR 1559”)
The International Tennis Hall of Fame, Newport, RI (See also Christie’s, 2005)
formerly the Weerth Collection (71 x 90 cm)
Kende Gallery, NY, sold 1951
Chicago Racquet Club or Private Collection, Chicago (?)
Lucas van Leyden (attributed to), Compositional Study, Bistre Drawing, Louvre, Paris (23.7 x 35 cm)
According to Cees de Bondt, these paintings were produced in the workshop of Lucas Gassel and the Christie’s catalogue entry (2005) suggests these painting were produced by different artists working for the same guild.
According to the De Jonckheere Catalogue entry (2011) the version by de Bles is the most famous of the series.
There are two proposed Literary Sources for the painting:
1. The De Jonckeere Gallery Catalogue entry (2011) and Bonham’s Catalogue entry (2011) both suggest that the description of the Thelemites’ palace in Francois Rabelais’ Gargantua and Pantagruel (Book 2, Chapter 55) (1534) provides the literary inspiration for these paintings.
2. Cees de Bondt provides an alternative for the literary source for these painting based on the link between the tennis enthusiast Charles V and his priest/scribe Antonio de Guevara author of Del Menosprecio de la corte y alabanzade la aldea (A Dispraise of the Life of a Courtier) (1539) in which he describes the small pleasures of country life while reminding readers of the dangers of gambling on tennis. For the description of de Bondt’s work go to this link.