Old Master Paintings, Drawings, and British Portraits


BENJAMIN- EUGÉNE FICHEL (Paris 1826-Paris 1895)

The Chess Players

signed and dated E. Fichel 1880 in the lower left

oil on panel, in its original nineteenth century gilded frame

12 ¾ x 16 inches          (33 x 41 cm.)


Private Collection, Connecticut


In an eighteenth century tavern a group of men in white powdered wigs are intensely focused on a game of chess. Others are relaxing by drinking, smoking, and reading the paper. All are elegantly attired including the waiter. A delightful line of black tricorn hats, both worn and hanging, serves to lead the viewer’s eye across the composition. Painted in 1880, the panel recalls a period hat was regarded as simpler yet more refined. 

Benjamin- Eugéne Fichel entered the l’Ecole des Beaux-Arts in 1841. His teachers were Paul Delaroche and Michel-Martin Drolling. Such scenes as ours brought the artist worldwide esteem, with chess players among his most popular subjects. He was often compared to Ernest Meissonier, as they both shared a love of the eighteenth century. Fichel exhibited regularly at the Salon from 1849-1895. He was awarded medals in 1857 and 1869, as well as the Légion d’honneur in 1870. By 1872 he received the Hors concours which would have made him ineligible for any further medals, but granted him the right to be automatically included in the Salon and his work exempt from examination by its jury. Works by the artist formed part of the permanent collections of the museums of Amsterdam, Baltimore, Brooklyn, Cardiff, Durham, Grenoble, Königsberg, Lille, Montpellier, New York, Omaha, Paris, Saint Cloud, and Wolverhampton. [1]


[1] Biographical information taken from E. Bénézit, “Benjamin-Eugéne Fichel” in Dictionnaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs et Gravcurs, volume 4, Librarie Gründ, Paris, 1976, p. 353; and “Benjamin- Eugéne Fichel” on Joslyn Art Museum website /


Lawrence Steigrad Fine Arts

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