Frank Moss Bennett

The Game Of Cards

Frank Moss Bennett

The Game Of Cards

This fine early 20th-century oil painting by British artist Frank Moss Bennett (1874-1952) depicts two 18th-century gentlemen in periwigs playing cards by a fire.

Frank Moss Bennett was a distinguished painter of portraits, architecture and genre scenes. Admired for his meticulous attention to detail, his works depicting figures in costume are particularly exquisite and underpinned by masterful draughtsmanship.

Born in Liverpool, the son of an iron founder, his formal artistic education led him first to the prestigious Slade School of Fine Art in London. Henry Tonks and Philip Wilson Steer were tutors and taught some of the finest emerging talent of the period. From here, after a short spell at St John's Wood Art School, he enrolled at the Royal Academy Schools.

Within three years, he’d debuted at the Royal Academy, the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool and been awarded a medal with a travel scholarship. This accolade paid for a lengthy trip to Italy with his friend Edward Francis Wells, where he visited Florence, Sienna, Brescia, Ravena, Viterbo and Rome.

Over the course of his career, Bennett amassed a substantial array of antiques and period costumes, in an effort to paint a convincing version of the past. He often used his cellar to build furniture in older styles. The interiors were also sketched from life, inspired by numerous sites across the British Isles, with the Tudor and Elizabethan periods a particular fascination. Some of his popular haunts included Knole House in Kent, Owlpen Manor in Gloucestershire, and Sulgrave Manor in Northamptonshire.

His sketchbook was referenced when producing a detailed work in his studio - with additional furnishings added from his own collection. The models were anyone willing - including neighbours, friends, and family. It’s said that if you knew him for long enough, you’d be dressed up for a sitting.

Here, in this work from 1925, the two gents are rendered with great care. The light on each button, the buckles on the shoes, the upholstery - all diligently observed. Behind them hangs a large 17th-century tapestry. Several pipes are placed in a porcelain holder.

A study for this painting was sold at Christie’s in 2005 and titled ‘The Last Hand’.

Signed/dated lower left and held within a later frame.

Learn more about Frank Moss Bennett in our directory.

Medium: Oil on canvas
Overall size: 26” x 22” / 66cm x 56cm
Year of creation: 1925
Provenance: Private collection, England.
Condition: Assessed and approved by our conservator. Cleaned. Canvas relined. Settled craquelure, as you would expect, with some pigment separation. The paint layer is stable. Frame restored.
Artist’s auction maximum: £82,134 for ‘His First Meet’, Oil on Canvas, Sotheby’s, New York, 1999.
Our reference: BRV1840

Conservation & History

We care profoundly about our role as custodians and every piece in the collection has been assessed by our conservator. When required, we undertake professional restoration carefully using reversible techniques and adopt a light touch to retain the aged charm of each work. We also restore frames rather than replace them as many are original and selected by the artists themselves.

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