After-dinner Games by Irving Penn (1947)

The photograph “After-dinner Games” was taken by artist Irving Penn in New York in 1947. The photo captures an intimate still life scene, likely symbolizing leisure activities that one might engage in after dining.

In the photograph, you can see a composition of various items typically associated with relaxation and post-dinner entertainment. At the center, there’s a cup of coffee on a saucer, beside which rests a spoon. Looming above the cup is a dark chess knight piece, adding a touch of intellectual gaming. In the background, a glass of a dark beverage, which could be wine or a spirit, is visible, along with a die balanced on top, possibly indicating a combination of drinking and gaming.

Several playing cards are featured prominently; the ace of diamonds leans against the cup, while other cards and a green card back are scattered around, suggesting a recently played game of cards. Dice are also a part of the scene, with one showing a clear six-side face up, another one balanced on its corner. There’s a bright yellow poker chip and a couple of smaller red counters or tokens, which might be used for scoring or as placeholders in a game.

The entire arrangement rests on what appears to be a distressed surface, adding texture to the image and a sense of age or timelessness to the after-dinner pastimes depicted. The composition, lighting, and the items chosen create a nostalgic and serene tableau that celebrates the simple pleasures of leisurely after-dinner activities.

Other Photographs from Irving Penn

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