Gambling is almost as old as the human civilization itself. It is only natural that, over time, art was produced that reflects the importance of gambling on human lives. You’ve probably seen most of the works of art that follow, but never learned more about them.
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Let’s now go over some of the more famous paintings about gambling.
Cassius Marcellus Coolidge — Dogs Playing Poker
Probably the most well-known poker themed painting, dogs playing poker has been referenced many times in modern media like movies and TV series. Its creator, Cassius Marcellus Coolidge created eight versions of the painting, and it has been reproduced more times than anyone bothered counting.
Although the paintings are considered by some to be kitsch or bad art, their popularity is so immense that people know about the paintings, but not the painter. This fact alone was enough for Coolidge to gain the title of “The most famous American artist you’ve never heard of”.
Caravaggio — The Cardsharps
Painted in the 16th century, this astonishing work of art was painted by the Italian Baroque artist Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio. Some consider the completion of this painting as a very important moment in Caravaggio’s career, as it is considered his first independent painting.
The painting portrays two boys playing a game of cards, with one of them hiding some cards behind him. There is also an older man behind the other boy who is signaling the cheater. This piece shows us what gambling looked like at that time, and gives us a window into the everyday life of the time.
Edvard Munch — At the Roulette Table
This famous Norwegian artist is best known for his painting “The Scream”. He was one of the most important artists in Modernism and his career lasted for over 60 years.
While in Niece, France, Edvard Munch was the regular patron of a casino in Monte Carlo which inspired him to create the piece called “At the Roulette Table”. His experiences were captured by using different painting styles to complement his own and led to the creation of this masterpiece.
Paul Cézanne — Card Players
During the 1890s, the famous French Post-impressionist created five paintings on the subject of gambling. These artworks portrayed drunken peasants playing card games and smoking at the tavern. Although these paintings are similar in nature, they vary in sizes.
This series shows us the life of peasants outside their work when they would go to taverns and socialize with each other. He completed a number of drawings and studies during this period as a form of practice before finalizing the series.