Playing cards were probably invented in East Asia and arrived in the late Middle Ages
in Europe. Tellingly their first use in the 14 Century can be proved with the first
laws aginst their use. Soon playing cards became very popular throughout Europe soon.
However, there were also the usual problems as quarrel at play or that people were
driven by gambling debts in bankruptcy.
This is reflected by the artistic representations showing a certain dualism. On the one hand, card games are a pleasant pastime, which were enjoyed by people from all social backgrounds, from the high aristocracy to monks, peasants, soldiers and even women. On the other hand, the game was off ill repute, was even sometimes considered as a devilish vice, which could lead to ruin, murder and manslaughter.
Card games have played a part throughout history and is just as much a part of our culture today than it was centuries ago. The medium has somewhat changed, however. With the technology available today, popular card games such as blackjack, poker & baccarat can be played online, from the comfort of your own home, or even on the go using mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets.
"The card players" by the Dutch Renaissance painter Maler Lucas van Leyden (1494-1533).
"The card players" the by the Flemish Baroque painter Théodore Rombouts (1597-1637).
"The Cardsharps" (c.1594) by the Italian Baroque painter Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio )1571-1610).
"Soldiers playing cards" (c. 1620/1622) by the French Baroque painter Valentin de Boulogne (ca.1594-1632).
"Peasants playing cards" by the Flemish painter Adriaen Brouwer (1605- 1638).
"Peasants Browling over Cards" also by Adriaen Brouwer.
"Tavern scene" (1658) by the Flemish painter David Teniers (1610-1690).
"Peasants playing cards" by the Dutch painter Maler Norbert van Bloemen (1670-1746).
"Card players" (1777-1778) by the Spanish painter Francisco de Goya (1746-1828).
"Raftsmen Playing Cards" (1847) by the American painter George Caleb Bingham (1811-1879).
"Gambling for the Buck" (1867) by the American painter John Mix Stanley (1814-1872).
"Gamblers" by T. Golwig.
"Boys playing cards" by the Italian painter Giulio del Torre (Italian, 1856-1932)..
"End of a game of cards" (1856)by the French history painter Jean-Louis-Ernest Meissonier (1815-1891).
"A card game"(1877) by the French painter Adolphe Alexandre Lesrel (1839-1929).
"Cavaliers playing cards" (1901) by the Spanish painter Maximo Juderías Caballero (1867-1951).
"Mary Cassatt Playing Cards" (1880) by the French Impressionist Edgar Degas (1834-1917).
"The card players" (c.1890) by the French artist Paul Cézanne (1839-1906).
"War Veterans playing cards" (1920) by the German painter Wilhelm Heinrich Otto Dix (1891-1969).