CHARDIN, Jean-Baptiste-Siméon
(b. 1699, Paris, d. 1779, Paris)

The House of Cards

c. 1740
Oil on canvas, 82 x 66 cm
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence

The coins on the table predict that what is a child's game today will be gaming tomorrow: the ubiquitous pastime, even obsession, of the French elite was gambling. Running a close second was "l'amour' - which the jack of hearts, facing us from the drawer of the card table, foretells for the absorbed and handsome lad.

There are four variations by Chardin on the theme of a boy building a house of cards: at Waddesdon Manor, Buckinghamshire; in the Musée du Louvre, Paris; at the National Gallery, London; and at the National Gallery of Art, Washington. The painting in the Uffizi is attributed to a studio copyist, although it bears what appears to be Chardin's signature.