THE CHEAT known as THE CHEAT WITH THE ACE OF DIAMONDS
The Cheat with the Ace of Diamonds, one of the key paintings by La Tour (circa 1636-1638), depicts a young man being cheated at a game of cards by three accomplices : a courtesan, a servant and a swindler, seen on the left pulling out the master card from his belt.
The same braid with a similar mauvish pink and white embroidery, forming a lattice pattern of flowerettes, with gold edging, trims the bodice of the servant and the collar of the trickster. A similar motif, but in a redder shade, appears on the servant's bodice in the other version of the picture, The Cheat with the Ace of Clubs, belonging to the Kimbel Art Museum in Forth Worth, and on the collar of the young man in the centre of The Fortune Teller in the Metropolitan Museum of New York.
The delicate black embroidery, gay and fine like calligraphy - on the white batiste bodice worn by the servant girl, is repeated in the Fort Worth version.
The necklace of big olive-shaped pearls (class beads rather than genuine pearls ?) and the pendant earrings in the form of a pear allude to the corrupt way of life of the courtesan wearing them. Pearls are in fact considered to be the attributes of Venus, the goddess of love, and they frequently symbolise venal love.