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“The Card Players” by Paul Cézanne (Barnes Foundation)

Cezanne The Card Players Barnes

“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 the largest version and the most complex of the series. It is composed of five figures, featuring three card players at the forefront, seated at a table, with two spectators behind. It has been speculated that Cézanne added the spectators to give depth to the painting. There is tension in the way the various players are contrasted by colour, 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 paintings. Rather than posing his players as a group playing card, 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.

Paul Cézanne 082

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
  • Artist:                       Paul Cézanne
  • Year:                         1890 – 1892
  • Medium:                  Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions             53 × 71 in (134.6 × 180.3 cm)
  • Museum:                 The Barnes Foundation

Paul Cézanne


“Of course one should not drink much, but often.”
– Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec


Photo Credit: Paul Cézanne [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons