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Card Games

Playing cards were probably invented in East Asia and arrived in the late Middle Ages in Europe. Tellingly their first use in the 14 Century can be proved with the first laws aginst their use. Soon playing cards became very popular throughout Europe soon. However, there were also the usual problems as quarrel at play or that people were driven by gambling debts in bankruptcy.

This is reflected by the artistic representations showing a certain dualism. On the one hand, card games are a pleasant pastime, which were enjoyed by people from all social backgrounds, from the high aristocracy to monks, peasants, soldiers and even women. On the other hand, the game was off ill repute, was even sometimes considered as a devilish vice, which could lead to ruin, murder and manslaughter.


"The card players" by the Dutch Renaissance painter Maler Lucas van Leyden (1494-1533).


"The card players" the by the Flemish Baroque painter Théodore Rombouts (1597-1637).


"The Cardsharps" (c.1594) by the Italian Baroque painter Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio )1571-1610).

"Soldiers playing cards" (c. 1620/1622) by the French Baroque painter Valentin de Boulogne (ca.1594-1632).

Dutch Genre Painting

"Peasants playing cards" by the Flemish painter Adriaen Brouwer (1605- 1638).

"Peasants Browling over Cards" also by Adriaen Brouwer.

"Tavern scene" (1658) by the Flemish painter David Teniers (1610-1690).

"Peasants playing cards" by the Dutch painter Maler Norbert van Bloemen (1670-1746).


"Card players" (1777-1778) by the Spanish painter Francisco de Goya (1746-1828).

American Realism

"Raftsmen Playing Cards" (1847) by the American painter George Caleb Bingham (1811-1879).

"Gambling for the Buck" (1867) by the American painter John Mix Stanley (1814-1872).

19th century Genre Painting

"Gamblers" by T. Golwig.

"Boys playing cards" by the Italian painter Giulio del Torre (Italian, 1856-1932)..

History Painting

"End of a game of cards" (1856)by the French history painter Jean-Louis-Ernest Meissonier (1815-1891).

"A card game"(1877) by the French painter Adolphe Alexandre Lesrel (1839-1929).

"Cavaliers playing cards" (1901) by the Spanish painter Maximo Juderías Caballero (1867-1951).


"Mary Cassatt Playing Cards" (1880) by the French Impressionist Edgar Degas (1834-1917).

"The card players" (c.1890) by the French artist Paul Cézanne (1839-1906).

Modern Art

"War Veterans playing cards" (1920) by the German painter Wilhelm Heinrich Otto Dix (1891-1969).