“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.
This version is composed of four figures, featuring three card players at the forefront, seated at a table, with one spectator behind. Cézanne added the spectator and the pipes on the wall to give depth to the painting.
There is tension in the way the various players are contrasted by color, light and shadow, the shape of hats, and the clothing all representing confrontation through opposites.
Cézanne’s created many preparatory works for the Card Players paintings, which indicates his commitment to this series of pictures.
Rather than posing his players in 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 throughout this project, often smoking their clay pipes.
Cézanne experimented with his compositions, striving to express the essence of these farmworkers 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.
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 characterized by repetitive, exploratory small brushstrokes that build up to form complex color fields, demonstrating his intense study of his subjects.
The Card Players
- Title: The Card Players
- Artist: Paul Cézanne
- Year: 1890 – 1892
- Medium: Oil on canvas
- Dimensions 65 × 81 cm (25.5 × 31.8 in)
- Museum: Metropolitan Museum of Art – MET
- Name: Paul Cézanne
- Born: 1839 – Aix-en-Provence, France
- Died: 1906 (aged 67) – Aix-en-Provence, France
- Nationality: French
- Movement: Post-Impressionism
- Notable works:
- The Card Players (Barnes Foundation)
- The Card Players (Courtauld Gallery)
- The Card Players (MET)
- Madame Cézanne in the Conservatory
- Madame Cézanne in a Red Dress
- Madame Cézanne in a Red Armchair
- Bathers (The National Gallery, London)
- The Large Bathers (Philadelphia Museum of Art)
- Bathers by Paul Cézanne (Art Institute of Chicago)
Paul Cézanne’s The Card Players
Explore the Metropolitan Museum of Art
MET European Paintings Collection
- “Pygmalion and Galatea” by Jean-Léon
- “Saint Jerome as Scholar” by El Greco
- “Portrait of Juan de Pareja” by Diego Velázquez
- “Camille Monet on a Garden Bench” by Claude Monet
- “View of Toledo” by El Greco
- “The Musicians” by Caravaggio
- “The Death of Socrates” by Jacques-Louis David
- “The Harvesters” by Pieter Bruegel the Elder
- “Young Woman Drawing” by Marie-Denise Villers
- “The Grand Canal, Venice” by J. M. W. Turner
- “The Houses of Parliament (Effect of Fog)” by Claude Monet
- “Madame Cézanne in a Red Dress” by Paul Cézanne
Cézanne’s Card Players
MET Modern and Contemporary Art Collection
- “Reclining Nude” by Amedeo Modigliani
- “Improvisation 27 (Garden of Love II)” by Wassily Kandinsky
- “Jeanne Hébuterne” by Amedeo Modigliani
- “The Card Players” by Paul Cézanne
- “Bathers” by Paul Cézanne
MET American Wing Collection
- “Washington Crossing the Delaware” by Emanuel Leutze
- “Portrait of Madame X” by John Singer Sargent
- “Mother and Child” by Mary Cassatt
- “Fur Traders Descending the Missouri” by George Caleb Bingham
- “The Gulf Stream” by Winslow Homer
Cézanne’s Card Players
“The day is coming when a single carrot, freshly observed, will set off a revolution.”
– Paul Cézanne
Photo Credit: Paul Cézanne [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons