Cezanne’s The Card Players is a study in concentration, social class. It bears a strong resemblance to still life, for which Cezanne was also famous. In the picture, Cezanne makes form and content work together in order to produce the effect of intense concentration and of a stillness in time which reflects the car playing which is shown. The position of the two players, facing each other around the table gives the sense of a stand off, as well as suggesting that the two figures are essentially in their own world, and are paying little attention to each other. In this sense, they are presented as being united in their activity, but also as being made indistinct by it.
This sense of being indistinct is created as Cezanne does not paint detail in the faces of the players. Rather, he paints their faces as a flat surface; which mirrors the manner in which he presents their clothes. This mirroring adds to these seine of a frozen moment that has been captured in the picture. It also relates to the class content of the picture. Cezanne deliberately painted everyday people in normal situations, and he reflects this everyday nature by painting little detail onto their faces. Cezanne also adds a sense of depth and warmth to the picture through his use of deep, warm reds in the background and lighter browns and greens in the men’s clothes.
Again, this serves to emphasize the stillness and concentration of the men in the foreground, and the manner in which they remain almost entirely absorbed in their activity. Finally, Ceezanne adds a dream like quality to the scene by presenting both the table and the men as slightly distorted in their dimensions. It is this combination of careful attention and vague distortion which gives the picture its unique style.