Béguin (by 1878)
Paul Bureau (by 1888)
Mme. Barre, Paris (by 1901)
César de Hauke, Paris (probably acquired from the above)
Hector Brame, Paris (acquired from the above)
Mr. and Mrs. John Hay Whitney (acquired from the above on October 13, 1960)
Paris, Galerie Durand-Ruel, Honoré Daumier, 1878, no. 15
Paris, Ecole des Beaux Arts, Exposition Daumier, 1901, no. 6
London, The Tate Gallery, The John Hay Whitney Collection, 1960-61, no. 14 (as dating from 1855-58)
Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art, The John Hay Whitney Collection, 1983, no. 6
Arsène Alexandre, Honoré Daumier - L'homme et l'oeuvre, Paris, 1888, listed p. 375
Erich Klossowski, Honoré Daumier, Munich, 1908, no. 352, p. 23
Erich Klossowski, Honoré Daumier, Munich, 1923, no. 352, p. 118
Eduard Fuchs, Der Maler Daumier, Munich, 1930, discussed p. 4 (listed as missing)
K.E. Maison, “Daumier,” Pantheon, Munich, July-August 1961, fig. 4, illustrated p. 206
K.E. Maison, Honoré Daumier Catalogue Raisonné of the Paintings, Watercolors and Drawings, vol. I, London, 1968, no. I-134, illustrated pl. 76
Luigi Barzini and Gabriele Mandel, L’opera pittorica completa di Daumier, Milan, 1971, no. 182, illustrated p. 104
Although he is best known as a draftsman of satirical illustrations, Daumier was also an accomplished painter, completing many canvases that demonstrated his exceptional skill as a draftsman. These oils are far more ambitious in their stylization and execution than his drawings, and, rather than offer the intense social critique that was the hallmark of his graphic work, they usually depict intimate genre scenes that engage and amuse the viewer. Among his most successful oils in this regard are a series completed in the late 1850s - early 1860s that present groups of men either conversing, reading or playing games, as portrayed in Joueurs de cartes.
This picture was was exhibited at the Galerie Durand-Ruel in 1878 at the first major showing of Daumier’s work and the only one-man show to be organized during the artist’s lifetime. The next important exhibition of the artist’s work was held in 1901, when this painting and several others were exhibited at the Ecole de Beaux-Arts. This marked the last time that the present work was seen by the public for the next sixty years until its inclusion in the Whitney collection exhibition at the Tate in 1960-61. Discussing this painting in the catalogue for that exhibition, John Rewald wrote, “With the light concentrated on the essential features and all three figures vigorously modelled in Daumier’s usual subdued colour scale, this painting illustrates the artist’s two outstanding characteristics: an astute observation of human expression and a powerful, almost dramatic tension bestowed on an ordinary moment of daily life” (John Rewald, The John Hay Whitney Collection (exhibition catalogue), National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1983, p. 25).
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