Julian Scott was a military genre painter. He enlisted as a musician in the Third Vermont Regiment at the age of 15 and was awarded the first Congressional Medal of Honor ever issued.
According to the Indianapolis Museum of Art, A Break: Playing Cards “probably derived from a Civil War experience. Like Winslow Homer and George Lambdin, Scott chose to portray a tranquil activity over a heated battle scene. He crafted a stable, balanced composition, arranging the elements — flag, drum, and rifles — with meticulous precision. Scott was also most attentive to details of military uniform: two soldiers wear the standard blue, while the seated figures are probably state militia volunteers, who wore their own uniforms. The seated soldier at right may be a Green Mountain Brigade volunteer from Scott’s native Vermont. The card player in the red hat is in the Zouave costume derived from the eponymous battalion of the French army.”