6_Cheating with an Ace at Cards by Georges_de_La_Tour

Cheating with an Ace at CardsGeorges de la Tour, circa 1635

Little has been discovered about the life of French painter Georges de la Tour (1593-1652), although it’s known that he established himself as a successful artist by the 1620s, painting religious and everyday-life scenes for wealthy patrons. Such was his success that he apparently attracted jealousy from his fellow-citizens in Lunéville, France. Undaunted he continued to develop his style and to produce an exquisite body of work some of which survives to this day. A specialist in light effects such as candle-lit scenes, and a master of capturing simplicity and stillness on the canvas, his works are carefully composed with a geometric precision. After his death, he was all but forgotten, his works languishing in obscurity for three centuries before being rediscovered in 1915 by a German scholar. Until then, many of his works had been ascribed to other artists, including to Vermeer, who had himself been rediscovered in the 19th century.

To our modern eye, La Tour’s paintings seem remarkably contemporary with their crisp, simple, photo-realistic effects and almost other-worldly atmosphere.

In this painting, we see some mischief afoot, with card sharps comically duping a naïve player at the card table.


Georges de La Tour [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Wrap Up Your Painting

  • Is this painting depicting the era in which it was painted, or another era?
  • Did you think the person you chose to look at was isolated or interacting with the other people in the painting?
  • What event would you have liked to visit on this person?
  • How might it change the way the painter depicted the scene in your imagination?
  • How do you feel now you’ve completed this activity? If you enjoyed it, why not add more Look at Paintings audio guides to your week? And don’t forget, you can take these guides with you to your local gallery and try them whilst standing in front of ‘real life’ art