Art and Gambling: Four Famous Italian and European Artworks About Casino

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Despite online gambling being a newer pastime, traditional gambling is an activity that goes centuries back. Therefore, it is not a surprise that some of the gambling paintings we know today go back to the time of the Renaissance. Even though some of the European artists in this article didn’t necessarily support nor condemn it, these gambling paintings gave a glimpse into society at the time. 

Why Casino is an Inspiration For Art

While there is debate about the exact place where gambling stems from, the first examples of gambling date back to before written history. Gambling houses were seen in China in the first millennium BCE, while the first six-sided dice appeared around 3000 BCE. Gambling has existed for longer than we might have thought. In several countries, gambling has become a reflection of the current society.  

While online casinos have become much more accessible to the public through gambling sites like, the art depicting gambling has slowly faded. However, the rise of NFTs has shown much hope for this precious kind of lost art. 

The Cardsharps by Caravaggio

As a renowned Italian painter, Caravaggio also showed us the downsides of gambling and how this can also shape society. His painting ‘The Cardsharps’ depicts a scene during the Baroque era, where two cardsharps engage with a young, oblivious man. Cardsharps are people who cheat or use deception to win at card games. 

These types of cardsharps have been depicted in pop culture in several films. In this painting, you can see a young cardsharp with an extra card behind his back, with an older cardsharp looking at the opponent’s cards to give his partner cheat codes..  

The Cheat With The Ace Of Clubs by Georges De La Tour 

Unlike online casinos, where it can be very challenging to try and cheat because of the gambling sites’ safety measures, it wasn’t unlikely to see people during the Baroque try and cheat. In this painting by Georges de La Tour, a spectator can get insight into how cheating worked at the time. 

In the painting, a man is deceitfully playing against two unsuspecting women as they are being served by a fair maiden. The cardsharp has hidden two cards behind his back, one being the ace of clubs. 

At The Roulette Table In Monte Carlo by Edvard Munch

While the other examples were of Baroque artists, this expressionist artist from Norway, famously known for ‘The Scream,’ also wanted to give an insight into gambling. In the painting ‘At The Roulette Table In Monte Carlo,’ the spectator can visualize a scenario at a Monte Carlo casino. Even though there isn’t much action in the picture, Edvard Munch had a particular skill for depicting moods. 

In the picture, you can see the figures of suited men around the green-clothed table. The men have notepads in their hands, they are in the middle of playing roulette. By watching the men, Edvard Munch wished to show the mood at the poker club and explore how their moods could change rapidly depending on the game’s outcome.  

The Card Players by Paul Cézanne

French Paul Cézanne had a gift for making avant-garde paintings. However, he was also known for making more simple paintings portraying the daily life of citizens. This is the example of the image ‘The Card Players,’ where he depicted two players playing cards with each other and smoking their pipes in a pub. The painting is primarily known for conveying certain emotions, as the viewer can sense the calmness of the two players through the image.