The Paul Cézanne Masterpiece Once Held for Ransom

As part of Sotheby’s Most Famous Artworks in the World series, this episode of Anatomy of an Artwork explores Paul Cézanne’s masterpiece The Card Players (1894-95), now housed in the Musee d’Orsay, Paris. The smallest, but perhaps most significant of the Card Players series, this painting exemplifies Cézanne's ability to transform the ordinary into the profound. The light application of paint, autumnal color palette and symmetrical composition coalesce in a triumph of tranquil simplicity. It has long been celebrated in France, and in 1961 was stolen in a midnight heist from the Pavillon Vendôme museum, only to be found in an abandoned car after payment of a ransom.

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