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“The Card Players” by Paul Cézanne (Courtauld Gallery)

Paul Cézanne, 1892-95, Les joueurs de carte (The Card Players), 60 x 73 cm, oil on canvas, Courtauld Institute of Art, London

“The Card Players” by Paul Cézanne

“The Card Players” by Paul Cézanne is one in a series of five oil paintings by the French Post-Impressionist artist painted during Cézanne’s final periods in the early 1890s. Cézanne’s famous paintings of peasant card players are considered to be amongst his most iconic and influential works. This version portrays just two card players, with one of the players smoking a clay pipe.

Cézanne’s created numerous preparatory works for the Card Players paintings, which indicates his commitment to this series of paintings. Rather than posing his players as a group playing cards, Cézanne made studies of them individually and only brought them together in his paintings. Many different farm workers came to sit for him over the period of this project, often smoking their clay pipes. Cézanne experimented with his compositions, striving to express the essence of these farm workers and their traditional card game. This project resulted in five closely related paintings of different sizes showing men seated at a rustic table playing cards.

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The Card Players, 1890 until 1892, Metropolitan Museum of Art – MET

One version of The Card Players was sold in 2011 to the Royal Family of Qatar for a price variously estimated at over $250 million making it the third or fourth most expensive work of art ever sold.

Paul Cézanne was a Post-Impressionist painter who laid the foundations of the transition from the 19th-century Impressionism to the 20th century’s Cubism. Both Matisse and Picasso have remarked that Cézanne “is the father of us all.” Cézanne’s art is characterised by repetitive, exploratory small brushstrokes that build up to form complex colour fields, demonstrating his intense study of his subjects.

The Card Players

  • Title:                         The Card Players
  • Français:                  Les Joueurs de cartes
  • Artist:                       Paul Cézanne
  • Year:                        1892-1895
  • Medium:                  Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions            60 × 73 cm (23.6 × 28.7 in)
  • Museum:                Courtauld Gallery

Paul Cézanne