Thomas Hart Benton

Poker Night (from A Streetcar Named Desire)

On view
Floor 7

Thomas Hart Benton

Poker Night (from A Streetcar Named Desire)


Tempera and oil on linen mounted on composition board

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


Credit line
Mrs. Percy Uris Bequest

Accession number

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

Object label
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.