The Influence Of Gambling On Famous Art

Published on November 09, 2020, 3:38 pm
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Gambling has long been an extremely popular past time for many around the globe. Thanks to its exhilarating, intoxicating, and addictive nature people have been fascinated with the rules and rituals of gambling for centuries.

Whether it is viewed as an exhilarating hobby or a sin, loved or hated, gambling plays a major part in societies and cultures around the world. Thanks to this gambling has long been an inspiration for artists and many paintings depict the intense emotions experienced during a high stakes game.

Paintings influenced by gambling are no recent phenomenon, in fact, some date back to the early 15th century. Some of these artworks were painted by fine art masters and in recent years have been sold at auction for exuberant prices.

Gambling and art’s relationship is so intertwined that now many major casinos are the home to significant galleries and collections, for more about this check out

Paintings Influenced By Gambling

The Cardsharps, 1595

One of the most notable paintings in gambling history is Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio’s The Cardsharps. Caravaggio is considered to be a cornerstone of the western history of art and The Cardsharps is one of his earliest masterpieces. The piece depicts a couple of young men playing a game of primero, a forerunner to poker. The young player on the right of the picture appears to have extra cards behind his back and is duping the player on the left. A third man, an older figure appears to be an accomplice to the young cheat. Despite this painting being hundreds of years old, it still portrays the theatrics and drama often found during an intense table game today.

Cheat With The Ace Of Clubs, 1630-34

Viewed as one of the greatest masterpieces of 17th-century French art, this artwork painted by Georges de La Tour depicts the temptations and danger of wine, women, and card games. This tableau is stunning with rich, colors, glorious costumes, and a dramatic narrative. Similar to Caravaggio’s piece, this painting depicts a scene with a cheat, concealing cards behind his back. The narrative of this piece is cleverly told by painting the characters to have discreet hand gestures and sidelong glances.

Argument Over A Card Game, 1665

Painted in the second half of the 17th century was this iconic piece by Dutch artists Jan Steen. This famous work shows an unruly scene of how a classic card game can easily turn into a dramatic brawl. In his artworks, Steen captured everyday life and ordinary people and this picture is a prime example of that. This chaotic artwork is a window into an everyday scene that turned into a melodrama.

The Card Players, 1890-92

The Card Players are a series of five paintings by Paul Cezanne, a French post-impressionist. In addition to this series, Cezanne completed numerous drawings and studies. The five paintings are similar to one another however the number of players, and the size of the canvas varies. Compared to many other paintings that depict gambling scenes, this series is notable due to the lack of dramatic narrative. The characters portrayed appear to be peasants enjoying their daily activities at the bar. These men have a quiet, still, concentration, and their gaze is directed at their cards, not one another. This alludes to the idea that perhaps cards are their sole means of communication outside of work.

At The Roulette Table In Monte Carlo, 1892

Edvard Munch may be most famous for his painting The Scream, however, he also painted a series of works inspired by visits to the casino in Monte Carlo. These were made during his stay in Niece and painted from memory. They expertly depict the nervous atmosphere of the table game and truly portray the tension and drama of the game. The casino environment and its drama are emphasized by Munch’s use of color, he contrasts black and white and pitches red versus green.

Dogs Playing Poker, 1894-1910

Dogs Playing Poker is one of the most iconic series of paintings to depict gambling in history. This series of eleven images were painted by Cassius Marcellus Coolidge and commissioned by Brown & Bigelow to advertise their cigars. These paintings depict various scenes in which anthropomorphized dogs enjoy a game of poker whilst smoking cigars and drinking. Although viewed by many as crass and kitsch, they have been reproduced many times and reenactments of the famous scenes have appeared in TV, film, and other art forms.

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