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Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi/ Photo: APF

The Bezique Game


Gustave Caillebotte

An active member of the Impressionist movement and participant in its exhibitions, Gustave Caillebotte (1848−1894) also collected works by his friends, many of which he then left to public collections in France.

While the game of cards is a common subject of Flemish genre painting, Caillebotte endows it here with the monumental dimension of a history painting while deliberately embedding it in the modernity of his time. The Bezique Game was first shown at the seventh Impressionist exhibition in 1882 and appeared first in the catalogue. Continuing his depictions of fashionable pastimes of the period like rowing, which he practised himself, Caillebotte painted his friends in the setting of the luxurious apartment on Boulevard Haussmann that he shared with his brother, the composer Martial Caillebotte, who is shown on the right smoking a pipe.

He is playing bezique, a variation on belote, at a table with three friends while another watches from a standing position.
Presented in natural poses and completely engrossed in the game, the players appear unaware of the painter observing them. The viewer is ushered into the intimacy of this friendly gathering at the same level as the figures in accordance with Caillebotte’s characteristic adoption of particular angles and unexpected viewpoints. He was indeed responsible for introducing the high-angle view into painting.
Influenced by photography, which his brother Martial practised as an amateur, he developed a realistic approach that found favour in the United States, where he was the first French artist to be exhibited on a regular basis, and thus initiated the tradition taken up by Edward Hopper in the 20th century.

Artwork Details

Artist: Gustave Caillebotte
Title: The Bezique Game
Geography: Paris, France
Date: 1880

Medium: oil on canvas

Classification: graphic arts (drawing, painting, engraving, calligraphy)
Dimensions: 125.3 x 165.6 x 3.4 cm
Inventory number: LAD 2009.036
Contact for images : [email protected]
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