Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin September 1, 2012 6:53 PMSubscribe
By general consent, Jean-Siméon Chardin was one of the supreme artists of the eighteenth century and probably the greatest master of still life in the history of painting. - Robert Hughes Now and again, as in hisBasket of Wild Strawberries- a glowing red cone, compressing the effulgence of a volcano onto the kitchen table, balanced by two white carnations and the cold, silvery transparencies of a water glass - the sense of rapture is delivered almost before the painting is grasped.
But the fervor of this image, almost literally a contrast of fire and ice, is comparatively rare in Chardin's output. Generally his still lifes declare themselves more slowly. One needs to savor hisJar of Apricots, for instance, before discovering its resonances, which are not only visual but tactile: how the tambour lid of the round box accords with the oval shape of the canvas itself and is echoed by the drumlike tightness of the paper tied over the apricot jar; how the horizontal axis of the table is played upon by the stuttering line of red - wineglass, fruit, painted fruit on the coffee cups; how the slab of bread repeats the rectangular form of the packet on the right, with its cunninly placed strings; and how all these rhymes of shape and format are reinforced by by the subtle interchange of color and reflection among the objects, the warm paste of Chardin's paint holding an infinite series of correspondences.