Le Poker

Félix Vallotton
Le Poker
huile sur carton
H. 52,5 ; L. 67,4 cm.
Don D. David-Weill, 1935
© RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d’Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski
Félix Vallotton (1865 - 1925)

"Some great news that will really surprise you: I'm going to get married. I am marrying a lady I have known and appreciated for a long time, a friend, a widow with three children. She has enough means to support herself and her children, and with what I will be able to earn, we will manage very easily. And what's more, the family will take care of the children, and I am sure will be a powerful source of help to my career. They are important art dealers". This is the somewhat cynical way that, at the beginning of 1899, Vallotton announced his marriage to Gabrielle Rodrigues-Henriques, the daughter of Alexandre Bernheim. The outcome of this rational union was not long in coming, and Vallotton soon found his work exhibited at the gallery of his brothers in law, Josse and Gaston Bernheim.
Up to 1902-1903, Vallotton did many paintings of his wife and his children, as well as of the various relations of his wife. Here, Gabrielle is playing cards with her mother and her uncle. But why, in this unusual composition, is the subject relegated to the background, into an almost inaccessible distance? The whole of the foreground is taken up by an oval table, composed using rabatment, and with a lamp of exaggerated proportions.
At this time, relations between Vallotton and his wife's family began to deteriorate. Moreover, it would not be long before the painter categorically refused to sell his paintings to his brothers in law. Assessed by the keen eye of the painter, this scene seems to justify John Klein's remark analysing the relationships between Vallotton and his wife's family: "These naïve comments about his uneasiness are crystallised in the way he distorts the space and gives special attention to the furniture and decoration" (Félix Vallotton, a retrospective, 1992).

Artwork not currently exhibited in the museum
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