Game of Checkers
~ Checkers Up At The Farm ~ 1875
By Afternoon Checkers
artist, John Rogers (1829 – 1904).
From Salem, Massachusetts, he was a very successful
genre sculptor of mid 19th century America.
- Rogers developed a strong interest in
afternoon checkers art from an early age
and continued to take drawing lessons after
abandoning his school courses at 16.
- Also fascinated by inventions and the
technology of practical machines and after
briefly working for a surveyor, he trained
as a machinist and master mechanic; however,
the financial panic of 1857 encouraged
him to go back to drawing and sculpting
- Rogers traveled to Rome and Paris on
a brief sojourn but the instruction and
academic sculpture introduced to him did
not mesh with his own style and philosophy
so he returned home and took up modeling
while working in Chicago.
- His sculptural groups depict a solid
grasp of anatomy and sharp observation
of details as seen in his costumes and
accessories and he combined these with
a natural ability of compositional organization
of his figures.
- Rogers work also displays an appealing,
sympathetic expressiveness in his portrayal
of ordinary rural and urban people involved
in everyday tasks and leisure activities
such as in 'Afternoon
Checkers' like the
checkers game represented above.
- Before Checkers Up At The Farm sculpture
was fashioned, Rogers had modelled a group
in hand-painted clay called Checker Players
for a charity fair ca. 1860.
- This sculpture attracted a lot of attention
as it was a rendering of a social subject
and patrons found the simplicity of the
setting and the expression of joy and concentration
shown by the players of the checkers game
to be very appealing.
- This statue was perhaps the starting
point of his unusual career.
- His sculptural groupings depict the
moods and emotions felt within the settings
of his work and offer the afternoon viewer
a clear image of the manners, sports, amusements,
social customs, domestic interests, costumes,
and even period furnishing styles as depicted
in the statuesque scenes of Civil War soldiers,
family groups at leisure or work, literary
topics, theatre performances and historical
The following two decorative arts figurines are
examples of 20th century sculpture that also represents
a similar interest in the depiction of common activities
within society. Here again, a game of checkers is
depicted in simple realism reflecting the joy players
can share over the checkerboard.
The setting in the game between father and
son clearly depicts a moment in time when the
son has perhaps just beaten the other player
in a clever checker move and is now rejoicing
over his play. The expression of the other
character is evident as well in a contemplative
semi smile. The postures of the afternoon checker
players are well defined and easily understood
by the viewer, who could assume the role of
onlooker on this game.
This modern white porcelain figurine is similar in style
to John Rogers and may be a rendition of his early Checker
Players. The poses, clothing and setting are certainly
reminiscent of the 19th century time period.
This modular figurine set also depicts a version
of a checkers game in a slightly different
afternoon checkers setting. Once again the
postures and facial expressions reflect a moment
during the game, which is emphasized by the
conductor looking on with a pensive expression.
This porcelain grouping is a very realistic
rendering of an enjoyable game of checkers
in a railway car or at the train station, which
shows that checkers can be played any afternoon,
anywhere, anytime, and by anyone.
Main Checkers Afternoon Information