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Cézanne '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
Musee d'Orsay
One of the world's definitive collections of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art, installed in the former Orsay train station.
Van Gogh 'Starry Night Over the Rhone'
This painting is one of the highlights from the Musée d'Orsay’s Van Gogh collection.
Renoir ‘Bal du Moulin de la Galette’
This Renoir work is one of Impressionism's most celebrated masterpieces, depicting romantic bourgeois Paris in the 1870s.
Monet '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.
Rodin 'The Gates of Hell'
The plaster model in the Musée d'Orsay dates from 1917 and was inspired by the famous doors that Ghiberti had made for the baptistery in Florence.
Manet 'The Luncheon on the Grass'
Though a seemingly mundane scene, by placing an anonymous unclothed woman in an everyday setting, Manet re-contextualized the age-old subject and redefined what constitutes fine art, with a hint of irony.

Related Tours

Private Musée d'Orsay Tour with tickets included
Escape the bustle and step into the Golden Age of art in the Musée D’Orsay to enjoy one of the world’s greatest collections of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art. On your private tour of the museum, you will: 

  • Fully guided tour with an expert local guide and tickets included
  • Enjoy the highlights of the museum, focusing on the best work of the impressionists
  • See Van Gogh’s Starry Night, Degas’ Ballerina, Manet’s Luncheon on the Grass, and one of Monet’s Waterlily pieces
  • Find yourself in front of an other-worldly clock, with stunning vistas over Paris
  • See the model for the Opera Garnier, designed by Carpeaux
  • Stand in front of Thomas Couture Les Romains de la Décadence – the museum’s largest painting
  • Enjoy time at your leisure to explore the museum after your tour has finished
  • Free for Children ages 4-11
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 and 1914. 

During the tour, your expert guide will help you navigate this huge collection to land you in front of the world-famous pieces housed in the museum. You will see numerous works by Monet, Renoir, Cézanne, Gauguin, and Van Gogh, while learning how each generation of artists has influenced the next. Explore the most iconic artworks in the world, including 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. After your guided tour, feel free to further explore the vast museum and its beautiful work at your own pace. 
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