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'Card Players'

This peaceful Cézanne painting is one of the Post-Impressionist’s most enduring works.

TravelCurious Tip

This is just one of many highlights in the Musée d'Orsay - don't miss the rest!

After Impressionism

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.


A simple scene

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.'


Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in Paris
The Louvre
The Louvre is the biggest museum in the world. Inside you’ll find the jewels of every civilisation since prehistory.
Musee d'Orsay
One of the world's definitive collections of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art, installed in the former Orsay train station.
'Starry Night Over the Rhone'
This painting is one of the highlights from the Musée d'Orsay’s Van Gogh collection.
‘Bal du Moulin de la Galette’
This Renoir work is one of Impressionism's most celebrated masterpieces, depicting romantic bourgeois Paris in the 1870s.
'Houses of Parliament'
A superlative example of the Impressionist style developed by Claude Monet, depicting the world in a way that no camera ever could.
Les Berges River Path
A pedestrianised recreation pathway along the river's edge

Related Tours

Musée d'Orsay: The World's Finest Collection of Impressionist Art
The Louvre may be the most visited museum in Paris, however the Orsay is probably the most enjoyable. Housed in the Gare d’Orsay, and constructed by Victor Laloux for the 1900 World Fair, the Orsay Museum is one of Paris’ most beloved museums, devoted to a huge breadth of art from between 1848 to 1914. The museum also showcases France’s most complete collection of Impressionist and Post Impressionist art - indeed the golden age of art in Paris.

  • Escape the bustle and visit one of Paris' most enjoyable and roomy museums.
  • Explore the most complete collection of Impressionist and Post Impressionist art in France.
  • Examine key works by Monet and Gaugin with your own expert guide.
During the tour your expert city guide will help you navigate this huge collection to find the absolute best, world-famous as well as lesser known pieces. You will see numerous works by Monet, Renoir, Cézanne, Gauguin, and Van Gogh, discovering how these artists influenced the next generation. You will explore the most iconic artworks in the world, such as Vincent Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night over the Rhone’, Renoir’s ‘Bal du Moulin de la Galette’, and Cézanne’s 'Card players', and learn from your knowledgeable guide, about the stories behind these artworks and their creators along the way. 
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