three figures surrounding low table, two sitting and one standing

A Difficult Move, c. 1770-1784

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Lépicié established his reputation as a history painter—the most prestigious category in the Académie Royale—but excelled in other subjects, too. His scenes of everyday life were admired in his day and are now his most celebrated works.

In A Difficult Move, three men occupy a cluttered, humble interior. The two card players are intent on their game. The one sitting on an upended cabinet is about to play a card, while his opponent assumes the classic pose of deep contemplation, chin on hand and eyes downcast. Their absorption draws us in, but we will never know the outcome.

Lépicié’s inspiration came from 17th-century Dutch and Flemish genre paintings and peasant and tavern scenes, which were enthusiastically collected in France in his day. Lépicié departed from those earlier works, however, in omitting any moralizing element. He also flooded this interior with bright light and employed a silvery palette, with touches of gray wash combined with purple, green, yellow, burgundy, and luminous orange watercolor.

A Difficult Move
Artist Life
1735 - 1784
Accession Number
Boin-Taburet Collection, Paris. David David-Weill, Neuilly-sur-Seine (by 1928-40; with Wildenstein, New York, 1937-40; sold to Kilvert); Mrs. Elsie Kilvert, New York (from 1940). Sale, Christie's, London, March 20, 1973, no. 123, as "Property of a Lady," for £1,300, to Dols. [Spencer A. Samuels Gallery, New York, until 1985; sold to MIA]
Curator Approved

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three figures surrounding low table, two sitting and one standing