Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin
September 1, 2012 6:53 PM   Subscribe

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 his Basket 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 his
Jar 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.
posted by Egg Shen (7 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
The Rays used to freak me out when I was a kid, but now I like it.
posted by ovvl at 7:54 PM on September 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Jar of Apricots,

I have that same jar under my sink.
posted by StickyCarpet at 8:33 PM on September 1, 2012

These painting are what the word sublime was created for.
posted by quazichimp at 9:41 PM on September 1, 2012

With the best of still life painting you get a tactile sense; what it might feel like to touch the objects in the painting. In the 'Jar of Apricots' for instance, you can almost feel how cool and smooth that porcelain cup might be. It's much more rare than one might think, this ability to convey touch through pigment and Chardin was one of the best. My favourite French artist before the Modernists get going.
posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 11:56 PM on September 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Not to take away from Jean-Siméon Chardin, but painting 150 years earlier was Geog Flegel. ( all clickable for high resolution).
I have this above my desk as I type.
posted by adamvasco at 12:35 AM on September 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

Chardin's still lives are one of those things I would point to when the aliens come and tell me--prove you are civilised or we will be zapped. He is also delightful because his portraits, esp. his portraits of children (which are respectful and serious) and of himself (which are just pure workingman's blues) should be noted.
posted by PinkMoose at 4:39 AM on September 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

The Monkey Antiquarian! meep
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 5:31 AM on September 2, 2012

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