'Soldiers Playing Cards' by Yves Brayer (1939)
Fine Art •
'Soldiers Playing Cards', watercolour and gouache on art paper, by Yves Brayer (1939). Such an atmospheric image, this stunning depiction by celebrated French artist and world traveler, Yves Brayer, captures a moment of repose for soldiers playing cards. Soldiers playing cards was a popular pastime despite its being considered disreputable in some circles; equated with cheating, gambling, drinking and sex, it aroused censure from civic and religious authorities, even as it offered fertile ground for artists. Countless paintings over the centuries depict soldiers playing cards or other games of chance. Not only did this realistically portray how soldiers relaxed while awaiting the next call to arms, but it also alluded to the risky, unpredictable nature of a soldier’s life on and off the battlefield. Smoking tobacco was another dubious pastime, yet embraced by young soldiers. In a military context, smoking could be considered restorative, and its use justified among soldiers who laboured under stressful conditions. Brayer's evocative painting is executed in a restricted palette dominated by browns and greys and accentuated with just a few touches of red and light-filled white. It is signed in the lower right hand and dedicated 'Aux Armées' (To the Forces), 1939. Overall, the artwork is in good condition having undergone a minor reconditioning by an art restoration professional. It is newly framed and glazed using museum-quality anti-reflective glass. (Note: This artwork is referenced in the Association du Musee Yves Brayer archive as K0918).
(Some information referenced: Wieseman, Marjorie E. “Guardroom Interior with Soldiers Smoking and Playing Cards” (2017). In The Leiden Collection Catalogue, 3rd ed.).
About the Artist: Yves Brayer (1907-1990) was born in Versailles, France. Determined to be an artist from an early age, he set out for Paris in 1924, initially studying at the academies in Montparnasse, and from there he attended the École des Beaux-Arts. Whilst still a student he exhibited at the Salon d’Automne and the Salon des Indépendants, and in 1927 Brayer left Paris for Spain with the aid of a state grant to enable him to study the works of the Spanish Masters in the Prado.
On his return to Paris in 1934 he exhibited a collection of paintings inspired by his travels in Europe and Morocco to great acclaim. Having moved south to Cordes in the Tarn region of France after the War, Brayer then discovered the area which was to have the greatest artistic influence on his work: Provence. He was enchanted by the diverse and architectural forms of the Alpilles mountains, and by the vast expanse of the Camargue region with its ubiquitous white horses and black bulls. From then on he spent several months each year working in Provence. He also made several trips to Mexico, Egypt, Iran, Greece, Russia, Turkey, USA and Japan where he was quick to grasp the unique rhythm and light of each country.
A large collection of Yves Brayer’s paintings are on permanent display both at the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Cordes, in the Salle Yves Brayer and at the Musée Yves Brayer in Les Baux de Provence, as well as various museums in other parts of France and elsewhere. Yves Brayer died in 1990.
Dimensions with frame:
H 41 cm / 16.1"
W 48.2 cm / 19"
Dimensions without frame:
H 24 cm / 9.4"
W 31.5 cm / 12.4"