R710 – Les Joueurs de cartes, 1892-1893 (FWN685)

R713 – Les joueurs de cartes,  1893-1896 (FWN686)

R714 – Les Joueurs de cartes, 1893-1896 (FWN684)

Pavel Machotka

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Les Joueurs de cartes

Les joueurs de cartes,

Les Joueurs de cartes









The smallest of the three later pictures with two players, Les Joueurs de cartes, R714-FWN684 —also thought to be the last to have been painted[1]—is the masterpiece in the series. At first sight it is the calmest and most balanced, but paradoxically it is the most inwardly charged with tension. One crucial difference is that the man on the right, whose head is below that of his fellow player in the other paintings, is painted larger here, so that their eyes are at the same level; the two players are more equal as antagonists, but paradoxically this only intensifies the asymmetry of the space. We also do not see his back, which is slack in the other paintings, so that here he appears more upright; and his eyes look down while the eyes of the other are altogether invisible, which makes both of them more thoughtful, poised rather than in overt competition.

The colors are once again new in this series, and they progress in complexity with the three pictures. As against the first two pictures, in which the men’s coats contrast more in color and stand out more against the dark ground, the third version has subtler connections between the coats and less contrast between the lights and the darks; the dark brown-red unifies the scene and creates an odd, darkly luminous light. The light smock of the man on the right, which is quite bleached in one of the other pictures and very yellow in the second, is here a delicate, pale ochre, tending in spots to browns, elsewhere to greens and blues: a splendid choice to oppose the red-browns, and—especially for so neutral a color—a subtly elaborated surface.

[1] See Françoise Cachin, Isabelle Cahn, Walter Feilchenfeldt, Henri Loyrette, and Joseph J. Rishel, Cézanne, New York: Abrams, 1996, pp. 335-341.

Source: Machotka, Cézanne: the Eye and the Mind.

R714-FWN684 a servi d’affiche pour l’exposition Cezanne du Musée Granet en juillet 1953 :

1953 Affiche lithographiée par MOURLOT pour l’exposition Paul CEZANNE au musée Granet d’Aix-en-Provence en 1953 66 x 49 cm