October 20, 2010 / 12:48 PM / 7 years ago

Three of five Cezanne card-player works reunited

<p>Paul C&eacute;zanne's 'The Card Players,' c.1890-92, is seen in this undated handout photo. REUTERS/The Metropolitan Museum of Art/Art Resource, NY/ Scala, Florence/Handout</p>

LONDON (Reuters) - Three out of five Paul Cezanne card-player paintings have been reunited in a new London exhibition, alongside preparatory oil paintings and drawings in what the Courtauld Gallery called a world first.

The famous series, dating toward the end of the French master’s career, were based on studies of peasants in the Aix-en-Provence region and gave them a stature rarely afforded the working classes in contemporary painting.

“Surprisingly these paintings haven’t ever been brought together and looked at in detail,” said Barnaby Wright, co-curator of “Cezanne’s Card Players” which runs from October 21-January 16.

“This show brings together almost all of the preparatory studies,” he told Reuters in the single-room exhibition.

“Peasants tended to be portrayed gambling and being somewhat disreputable, but Cezanne saw something different in the peasants working on his parents’ estate.”

And so in the card-player painting loaned to the Courtauld by the Musee d‘Orsay in Paris, there is a bottle of wine on the table between the two figures but no glasses to drink it from.

<p>Paul C&eacute;zanne's 'The Card Players,' c.1893-96, is seen in this undated handout photo. REUTERS/The Samuel Courtauld Trust, The Courtauld Gallery, London/Handout</p>

The other two pictures from the series on display are from the Courtauld’s own collection and a loan from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The New York gallery will host the same exhibition from February 9-May 8, 2011.

According to Wright, a fourth painting belonging to the Barnes Foundation in the United States cannot be loaned out and the fifth is in a private collection which declined to release it for the show.

<p>Paul C&eacute;zanne's 'The Card Players,' c.1893-96, is seen in this undated handout photo. REUTERS/RMN (Mus&eacute;e d'Orsay)/Herv&eacute; Lewandowski/Handout</p>

Along one wall of the exhibition, the Metropolitan Museum’s “The Card Players” (1890-92) is surrounded by preparatory paintings and drawings of the same men in the same dress.

There is also a series of portraits of a man leaning on a table and smoking a pipe.

The immediately visible brushwork may have appeared coarse to many 19th century viewers, but it proved an inspiration to avant-garde artists who came after Cezanne.

According to the Courtauld, Cezanne’s peasants were a “touchstone” for Pablo Picasso’s Cubist portraits, and artists including Fernand Leger and Jeff Wall later paid homage to them in their works.

Editing by Steve Addison

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