Cézanne’s “The Card Players” sells for over $250 Million – setting a new record as the highest price ever paid for a work of Art! The royal family of the tiny, oil-rich nation of Qatar has purchased a Paul Cézanne painting, The Card Players, for more than $250 million.
The sale of the 1895 painting “The Card Player”s has almost doubled the previous record-setter, Jackson Pollack’s “No. 5″, 1948, which fetched $140 million in 2006.
Cézanne’s painting was done in Aix-en-Provence in the South of France. It shows Provençal peasants immersed in smoking their pipes and playing cards. The two cardplayers are focused their card playing, eyes cast downward, intent on the game at hand.
Cézanne adapted a motif from 17th century Dutch and French genre painting which often depicted card games with rowdy, drunken gamblers in taverns, replacing them instead with stone-faced tradesmen in a more simplified setting. Whereas previous paintings of the genre had illustrated heightened moments of drama, Cézanne’s portraits have been noted for their lack of drama! Other than an unused wine bottle in the two-player versions, there is an absence of drink and money, which were prominent fixtures of the 17th century genre.
The painting that was sold was one of five versions of paintings of card players. The models for the paintings were local farmhands, some of whom worked on the Cézanne family estate, the Jas de Bouffan. Each scene is depicted as one of quiet, still concentration; the men look down at their cards rather than each other, perhaps the cards being their sole means of communication outside of work. One critic described the scenes as “human still life”, while another speculated the men’s intense focus on their game mirrors that of the painter’s absorption in his art.
In his painting’s Cezanne captured both spatial depth and pattern at once, earning him the stature, according to Matisse, as “a benevolent God of painting.”
In 2010, Qatar opened its Arab Museum of Modern Art, and the Qatar National Museum, currently closed for renovation but reopen in 2014. That’s where this Cézanne painting could end up, perhaps alongside some famous artworks by Warhol, Rothko and Hirst that the Qataris have also been snapping up in an art buying spree!