Millais was commissioned to paint this portrait by writer and art collector Walter Armstrong. It features Armstrong’s daughters Elizabeth, Diana and Mary. Armstrong hoped the painting would help to raise the social profile of his family. The card game, and the title of the work, hint at competition over who would marry first. This was seen as important at the time for women of their social class. This work presents the social structures and expectations of the period as a game that these women have learnt to play skilfully.
Gallery label, August 2018
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