Gambling and art may not go hand in hand, but over the centuries there have been many famous artists who have used gambling in their work. Some of these paintings even managed to become very recognisable and very expensive pieces of gambling art. That said, we’ve decided to take a closer look at some of the most popular gambling paintings that were featured throughout history. So, let’s see what we’ve found out!
In the era of online casinos, we keep forgetting about the very beginnings of gambling. Well, gambling been around since the ancient times; it is generally believed that playing cards started in China and has eventually spread across the world. As the popularity of dice decreased during the 15th century, playing cards became more popular form of gambling. Although this activity was reserved for the privileged at first, in the middle of the 15th century men started to gamble more often.
Gambling inspired some of the greatest works of art.
Not only did people paint about playing cards, but gambling inspired some of the greatest works of art. In fact, there have been many astonishing gambling paintings in history and we’ve therefore decided to mention some of the most famous pieces that were made throughout history.
#1 Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio - The Cardsharps
Painted by the Italian Baroque artist Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, The Cardsharps was created in the 16th century, somewhere around 1594. The painting illustrates two boys playing cards, where one of them has extra cards behind his back. Also, there’s an older man peering over the innocent player’s shoulder, signalling to a cardsharp who is obviously his acquaintance. All of them are bound together by the common drama, where each of them plays their own part within the larger play.
#2 Georges de La Tour - The Cheat with the Ace of Clubs
Created by Georges de La Tour between 1626 and 1629, The Cheat with the Ace of Clubs describes the scene where two women are playing cards with a man, who used a moment of their distraction to cheat and produce two aces from behind his belt. At the same time, the maidservant and the female on the right are showing some sign of anxiety and suspicion. This piece is very much alive as it shows players’ gestures that signal their next moves. The later version of the original painting, The Cheat with the Ace of Diamonds, was created in 1635, with a few differences.
#3 Jan Steen - Argument Over a Card Game
The next gambling artwork on our list belongs to the Dutch Golden Age. This piece is one of the most celebrated paintings of all time called Argument Over a Card Game, originally painted by Jan Steen. This iconic art piece was created in the second half of the 17th century and captures the art of gambling, turning into a drama, over a classic card game. In his paintings, Steen captured everyday life of common people, while he managed to turn chaotic situations into true pieces of art.
#4 Paul Cézanne - The Card Players
The Card Players represents is a series of oil paintings, created by Paul Cézanne. He was the French Post-Impressionist artist who completed a number of drawings and studies while making the series of famous card players. Altogether, there were 5 paintings in the series, made during the early-to-mid 1890s period. Each of Cézanne’s Card Players portrayed drunken peasants in taverns, smoking and playing cards, which was perhaps their only way of communication outside of work.
#5 Cassius Marcellus Coolidge - Dogs Playing Poker
The series of paintings Dogs Playing Poker, by Cassius Marcellus Coolidge, are very recognisable pieces of gambling art, to people of all ages and backgrounds. Namely, Dogs Playing Poker refers to a sequence of sixteen oil paintings, created from the mid-1900s to the mid-1910s, commissioned by Brown & Bigelow with a purpose to advertise cigars. All pieces characterise humanised dogs playing poker. The paintings have become widespread across the USA, as examples of kitsch art in home decoration.
#6 Fernand Leger - Soldiers Playing Cards
Influenced by Cézanne and Picasso, Fernand Leger gained a reputation as the fourth member of Cubism. His master piece Soldiers Playing Cards reflects his fascination with the mechanisation of the World War I. Leger combined Cubism with the aesthetic of the machine, while alluding to both the mechanical nature of the war and the anonymity of its participants. The painting was created in 1917, while Leger was hospitalised in Paris after the Battle of Verdun, and it remains one of his best pieces.
Thoughts and Comments
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