The Card Players
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ldare's picture

Sr. Editor

The Card Players couldn't have bet on being stolen.

Part of a series of five paintings that depict anywhere from two to five people. The smallest of the paintings at only 47.5 x 57 cm.

This painting was stolen in a very high-profile theft while it was part of a traveling exhibit in Cézanne's hometown of Aix-en-Provence in August 1961.

The French Postal Service released a postage stamp of the painting acknowledging the loss. Reports vary regarding the recovery: Some sources say the paintings were returned a few months later after a ransom was paid, while others say almost a year passed before police found the paintings in a parked car in Marseille.

Other works stolen in the heist were Cezanne's paintings of a leg of mutton, a teapot, a landscape of Aix, Water Reflections or Reflection in the Water, Seated Peasant, and The Skulls. 

In 2011, this painting's twin in the series was sold for $250 - $300 million to the Royal Family of Qatar's private collection, making it the most expensive painting ever sold.

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Here is what Trivium says about The Card Players

Playing cards has never been less fun.

During the Dutch golden age, paintings of card players were popularized by artists like Jan Miense Molenaer and Antoine and Louis Le Nain. Men and women lit by candle light, laughing and shouting and drinking and betting on a good hand. They were fun paintings, and 150 years later Paul Cézanne came along and bled all the fun out of the genre.

Cézanne may have seen the Le Nain's card player paintings in the museum in his hometown of Aix, but we know that he made five painting of card players of his own — and that they are very different than the joyful Dutch works. Cézanne's card players are all men, all stone-faced. The wine bottles on the table are untouched, the colors monochromatic. This painting, currently on view in the Musée d'Orsay in Paris, is the last in Cézanne's series. The scene is quiet, distilled. Two men in stark profile still as statues — a human still life.

Learn more about The Card Players and other artists at Trivium Art History