This is just one of many highlights in the Musée d'Orsay - don't miss the rest!
One painting from this series was sold in 2012 to the Royal Family of Qatar for around $250 million, making it the second most expensive work of art ever sold. Luckily, you can see one of the series for rather less in the Musée d'Orsay.
Cézanne's 'Card Players' are regarded as cornerstones of the French post-Impressionist movement, which arose at the turn of the century as a reaction to Impressionism’s concern for ‘natural’ light and colour. Each of the series depicts Provençal peasants immersed in smoking pipes and playing cards. The subjects are all male and are displayed in an intellectual, solemn light; rather than gambling, their eyes are cast downward, quietly intent on their game.
It is said that Cézanne adapted a thematic from the 17th-century Dutch genre which often depicted card games with rowdy, drunken gamblers in taverns, replacing them instead with sombre-faced workmen in a simplified setting.
Cézanne's portraits are admired for their lack of drama, narrative, and conventional characterization. In the Musée d’Orsay version, there are no other props apart from the two players, the cards, the pipes and a wine bottle. By eliminating spectators and other unnecessary detail, Cézanne displayed only the absolute essentials: two players immersed in their game. The peace contained in the scene is tangible; one critic even described the work as a ‘human still-life.'
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