The Royal family of Al Thani of Qatar currently owns a painting worth $250 million. Painted by French artist Paul Cezanne, “The Card Players” is a scene we can all relate to – here’s why.
This version of the card players by Paul Cezanne is one of the great highlights of his work. The Card Players form part of a series of five paintings depicting peasant card players that Cezanne worked on at the beginning of the 1890s.
It was not a subject that he had ever depicted before, and it proved to be a significant preoccupation throughout that decade. This series of Impressionist paintings are now seen as an essential contribution to modern art.
The versions vary in size, the number of players, and the setting where the game takes place. Cézanne also completed numerous drawings and studies in preparation for the series.
There are five versions in the series, each varying in content and size: one is in a private collection, and the others are in the Musee d’Orsay, the Courtauld Gallery, the Barnes Foundation, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
One version of The Card Players was sold in 2011 to the Royal Family of Qatar for a price estimated at $250 million, signifying a new mark for the highest ever price for a painting, not surpassed until November 2017.
Qatar isn’t just a destination for those with private jets. It’s also a burgeoning intellectual and media hub. It hosts the headquarters of Al Jazeera, the Mideast campuses of Georgetown, Texas A&M, and Northwestern Universities—and has one of the most ambitious sets of cultural institutions of its time. It’s no wonder the Royal Family snatched it up.
Besides the painting breaking all records, the blurry playing cards represent a deeper meaning than you can imagine. It is said that the two card players are Cezanne himself and his father. The moody card game symbolizes the struggle to get his father to recognize his art. The ‘game’ is the only way for him to communicate from his perspective.
The radiant white highlight in the painting seems to divide the composition into two sections, which calls attention to the dark and light tonalities of the men’s dresses. With these impressive details and features, The Card Players was known as one of the most brilliant artworks of all time – and still is.