My painting is called The card players (Les joueurs de carte), painted by Paul Cézanne. It isn’t only one painting. It is a series of five paintings started in 1890. They are five oil paintings on canvas and the dimension depends on the version. Each painting is exhibited in a different museum and one of them was bought by Qatari royal family, for around 250 million dollars. It became the most expensive piece of art ever sold. Cézanne maybe drew inspiration from the card players painted by Le Nain and Chardin.
The first version was made between 1890 and 1892. It’s an oil painting on canvas. Its dimensions are 134.6 x 180.3 cm. This is the bigger one, and it is located in the Barnes Foundation in Merion, Pennsylvania. Here we can see three card players focused on the game, observed by another man and a child who are carefully following the game. The man who stands in the left part of the painting is leaning on the wall and smoking a pipe, maybe waiting for his turn. It’s painted with clear brush-strokes and there is a lot of contrast between the colors. On the back wall we can see different colors, like green, pink, blue, purple, white, gray…
This is the second version. It was also painted between 1890 and 1892. It’s an oil painting on canvas, its dimensions are 65.4 x 81.9 cm and it’s located in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New York. It’s very similar to the first version. The three players and the man back leaning on the wall seem to be the same, only the child has been eliminated. The bookcase (on the superior left corner), the painting (in the upper center) and the tablecloth from the first painting have been eliminated as well. The painting is clearer and also the faces, so we can see better the expressions of the men. They look serious, focused on the game.
This is the third version, painted between 1892 and 1893. It’s an oil painting on canvas, its dimensions are 97 x 130cm, and it belongs to a private collection. This painting is very different to the other two. Now there are only two players and the painting is darker. The left player is smoking a pipe and he is wearing a black coat, his cards contrast with the dark of the painting. The right player is wearing a gray coat. Both men have a mustache and are wearing a hat. There is a wine bottle over the table, which is covered with an orange cloth. In the background, there is a dark window. The room seems to be a bar, so the scene can be taking place at night. This painting was sold to the Qatari Royal Family by a record price of between 250 and 320 million dollars, so it has become the most expensive painting ever sold. The Qatari bought this painting to a Greek shipping magnate.
This is the fourth version, painted between 1892 and 1895. It’s an oil painting on canvas, its dimensions are 60 x 73cm and is located in the Courtauld Institute of Art in London. This painting is similar to the previous version, but it’s much more colorful, so it contrasts with the third version, which was very dark. The brush-strokes are very clear and there is a very wide range of colors. It seems as if it was the same painting as the third version, but now at day time.
This is the fifth and last version. It’s the most famous version and also the smaller one. It was painted between 1894 and 1895, it’s an oil painting on canvas (as the other ones), its dimensions are 47.5 x 57 and it’s located in the Musée d’Orsay in Paris. It’s very similar to the two last versions. The only change is the illumination, darker than the other ones. The players have the same position in the three paintings, their expressions haven’t changed and they are focused on their card game. This painting has different tones and types of brown, so it is sadder.
Cézanne also created a series of preparatory sketches for the painting of the card players, he made sketches of each person, as a study of the figures painted in the final painting. Some people believed that Cézanne worked first in the bigger paintings to do the smaller ones finally, but recent researches say the opposite: they say that Cézanne used both, the sketches and the smaller drawings to paint the bigger ones later.
Man with the Pipe, painted in 1890. Oil on canvas, 90 × 72 cm, located in the Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg.
Man with a Pipe, painted in 1892, oil on canvas, 73 x 60 cm,located in the Courtauld Institute of Art, London.
Man Smoking a Pipe, painted between 1890–1892, oil on canvas, 72 x 91 cm, located in the Pushkin Museum, Moscow.
Man with a Pipe (Study for The Card Players), painted between 1890–1892, oil on canvas, 39 x 30.2 cm, located in the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri.
Study for The Card Players , painted between 1890–1892, oil on canvas, 32 x 35 cm., located in the Worcester Art Museum, Worcester, Massachusetts.
Study for Card Players, painted between 1890–1892, graphite and watercolor on paper, located in the Rhode Island School of Design Museum, Providence, Rhode Island.
Paul Cézanne was a French painter who belongs to the postimpressionism. He was born on the 19th of January, in 1839, in Aix-en-Provence, France, and he died on the 22nd of October in 1906 (67 years old) also in Aix-en-Provence. He is considered to be the bridge between the art of the 19th century and modern painting. He had a geometrical vision of the world. He said that all objects could be looked as geometrical figures. We can see an example in the cylindrical shape of the top hat in the Cards Players paintings.
Cézanne might have drawn inspiration from:
The card players, by Theodoor Rombouts.
The card players, by William Sidney Mount
The Young card players, by Le Nain brothers.
The House of Cards, by Jean-Baptiste Siméon Chardin
Other Cézanne famous paintings
The Black Marble Clock
Why I liked this painting.
I liked this painting because, it’s interesting, how Cézanne did all the versions, what he changed on them and also the sketches he did. I like the contrasts between each painting, doing one very colorful and the next one, very dark. I like the combination of different colors Cézanne mixed in his paintings.
Some interesting videos
Made by Miguel Bustamante. 4º B