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Portrait of Chess Players

Marcel Duchamp, American (born France), 1887 - 1968

Marcel Duchamp prized the intellectual rigor of chess, and he sought a similarly conceptual basis for his art. This painting depicts the artist’s older brothers facing each other across a chessboard: Raymond Duchamp-Villon on the left, and Jacques Villon on the right. Their profiles repeat to suggest the unfolding of their attention over time, and the chess pieces that float in the narrow area between them represent the players’ mental projections of the game. Duchamp said that he achieved his mauve-gray color scheme, a version of the subdued Cubist color palette, by painting under moody, flickering gaslight.


Object Details
Arthur Jerome Eddy (1859-1920), Chicago, purchased from the artist at the Armory Show, New York, March 1, 1913-until d. 1920 [1]; by inheritance to his widow Lucy Crapo Orrell Eddy (1863-1931), Chicago; sold in California to Louise Arensberg (1879-1953) and Walter C. Arensberg (1878-1954), Los Angeles, 1930 [1]; gift to PMA, 1950.1. Milton Brown, The Story of the Armory Show, New York, 1988, p. 264.2. Arensberg provenance notes dated December 1, 1951 (PMA, Arensberg Archives, CA Use Tax)

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