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Thomas Hart Benton

Poker Night (from A Streetcar Named Desire)
1948

Not on view

Date
1948

Classification
Paintings

Medium
Tempera and oil on linen mounted on composition board

Dimensions
Sheet (sight): 36 × 48in. (91.4 × 121.9 cm)

Accession number
85.49.2

Credit line
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Mrs. Percy Uris Bequest

Rights and reproductions
© T.H. Benton and R.P. Benton Testamentary Trusts / Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

In 1947, Thomas Hart Benton was commissioned by Hollywood producer David O. Selznick to create an original painting based on a scene in the film version of Tennessee Williams’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play, A Streetcar Named Desire. The work was a gift for Selznick’s first wife, Irene, a theatrical producer responsible for bringing the play to Broadway in the same year. Poker Night captures the sexual tension and violent undertones in the relationships between Blanche DuBois, a down-and-out Southern belle (holding up a mirror), her sister, Stella (leaning over the armchair), and Stella’s husband, the hot-tempered, childlike Stanley Kowalski (wearing a white undershirt). It documents one of the play’s most dramatic and memorable moments, when Blanche taunts a drunk and angry Stanley with her petty provocations and refined airs.





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