The Chess Game
Marcel Duchamp, American (born France), 1887 - 1968
This painting depicts the artist's brothers, Raymond Duchamp-Villon (on the left) and Jacques Villon (on the right), and their respective wives, Yvonne and Gaby, in the garden of Villon's studio on the outskirts of Paris. The two bearded men are shown hunched over a chessboard as they contemplate their next move, while their wives are excluded from the game. Yvonne Duchamp-Villon lies semi-recumbent on the mint-green grass and Gaby Villon nervously fingers a tea set in a scene of crushing boredom that has its roots in the restless ennui of Emma Bovary, the heroine of Gustave Flaubert's classic 1857 novel Madame Bovary. The artist is known to have admired the writings of Flaubert, who lived and worked in the countryside surrounding Rouen in Normandy, where Duchamp was also born and raised.