Masterpiece, an Art Auction Game

American Artist ApprecAugust is American Artists Appreciation Month.  I began to appreciate great art on accident as a child.  I grew up like any other 5-7 year old girl who liked to do your normal art activities like coloring, painting, and creating things with play-doh.  Once I started school and made friends, I noticed that some of my art creations were a little different than others.  For example, when I made mud pies in our back yard, I got to decorate the top with the various flower petals that my mom had growing in her flower gardens.  I had the best looking mud pies on the block!  You could say that was just my “budding” moment into the art world. 

MasterpieceWhat do I mean by this?  When I was a child, my brothers, sister and I, played this game called, “Masterpiece.”  Well, to tell you the truth, I don’t actually remember playing the game. You see, I have a lot of older brothers and sisters and while they played this art auction game, I admired the paintings.  My older brothers and sisters weren’t interested in my babbling auctioneer skills at that age, so I had to wait until they were done playing the game. Once they were done, I could get my hands on the paintings and do my bidding.

As I grew older, I was more interested in studying the paintings and finding out who the artists were than playing the game. Here is a sample of several paintings in the game that I played.

Masterpiece Artwork

In my research of the game, I found out that there are actually three editions of the game from Parker Brothers:  1970, 1976, and 1996. The pictures above came from the 1976 one, which contained works of art all found at the Art Institute of Chicago. The game is now out of print, but can be found on Amazon. The price for the game now can be from about $50-$200! I need to check to see if my parents still have it before any of my siblings find out!

In the 1970’s game, there are 24 painting cards that contain paintings on display at the National Gallery of Art in London, England, such as Vincent van Gogh’s Sunflowers, Paul Cézanne’s Aix: Paysage Rocheux, Leonardo da Vinci’s The Virgin and Child with St Anne and St John the Baptist, Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s Les Parapluies and Claude-Oscar Monet’s The Beach at Trouville.

In the 1996 game, the painting cards feature different paintings from the Art Institute of Chicago, such as Paul Cézanne’s The Basket of Apples, Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks, James Abbott McNeill Whistler’s Violet and Silver – The Deep Sea, Paul Gauguin’s Old Women of Arles and Vincent van Gogh’s The Bedroom.

Have you ever played the game, “Masterpiece?”  What do you think of using this game to teach children about art and artists?



8 thoughts on “Masterpiece, an Art Auction Game

  1. Janene Geisner

    Bottom row, center picture, from photo above. Can you tell me the name of the painting and artist. Article posted August 26th, 2016. By Diane Osborne

  2. Serene

    My mom and I, and some of my friends played it in the early 80’s but it definitely had Nighthawks. That’s how I ended up here. Searching the two together. But yes, it’s a lovely way to appreciate art.

    1. web site

      You’re so cool! I don’t think I have read something
      like this before. So wonderful to find another
      person with original thoughts on this subject matter.

      Really.. thank you for starting this up. This site is one thing that is
      needed on the internet, someone with a bit of originality!

  3. Renee Gagnon

    I had this game as a kid in the 70s. My friends found it kind of boring – the mechanics as I recall were pretty bland – but it definitely bolstered my love of art.

  4. Gary Middleton

    Great game. I’ve been doing a lot of research on it lately. For US versions, there seems to be (3) from 1970 (3 different sets of 24 paintings each – with a few overlaps), a 1976 version, (2) 1987 versions (1 with Van Gogh in center and 1 with painting “The Laughing Cavalier” in the center, as well as on that one’s cover art). There was also later a 1996 US version. Most of the US versions featured paintings that all are displayed in the Art Institute of Chicago, but 1 of the 1970 versions and the Laughing Cavalier version have some from AIC and others from London’s National Gallery, among a couple of others from one-off locations. 1970 also produced versions for Canada (1 in French only, 1 in English only, 1 with a mix of French and English) a UK version (where all currencies were in Pounds) and a German version also. All 5 of these sets had the same 24 paintings in them, all of which were from the National Gallery in London. I have also found a version from 1971 with an Orange cover all in French and a 1976 Canadian version (all in English with a Green cover) both with the same look and feel of the US 1976 version, but with paintings from Nat Gall again. The was also a 1987 Spanish verison similar to the USD 1987, but the box is all black compared to the US’s all white box. There was also a 1987 “Cavalier” copy in all German as well. Finally (at least from my findings) 1996 had a similar version to the US one, but all in French again (likely Canadian). Our family got so into this game, that a few years ago (2019 or so) we created a giant live version Scavenger Hunt, and about 10 of us went to the Art Institute of Chicago in a race to take a selfie with every painting from our 1970 US copy of the game. We had many people asking us what in the world we were doing, saying how fun it looked to be.

  5. Brooke Henderson

    Thank you so much for posting this and sharing the images. I fell in love with this game in the late 1970s. I used to look up the paintings in my mom’s old college art history texts and mark the entries with the associated art cards. I’m convinced this game led me to becoming an art history major in college. Now I’m an Art Librarian, and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. It all started with Masterpiece!
    btw, I’m finally getting to Chicago next week and am so excited to ‘meet’ my old ‘friends’ at the Art Institute.

  6. Laura A

    My husband’s family played the ’76 version. Now we play it with our kids…who are now in their 20s. I guess we brought it home from the grandparents home at some point in the past 10 yrs. We only have cards with the art and the prices…no others…I guess they were lost. You think it would be boring, but we always have fun! We played last weekend.


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