Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin

Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin (French: [ʃaʁdɛ̃]; November 2, 1699 – December 6, 1779[1]) was an 18th-century French painter. He is considered a master of still life,[2] and is also noted for his genre paintings which depict kitchen maids, children, and domestic activities. Carefully balanced composition, soft diffusion of light, and granular impasto characterize his work.

Chardin pastel selfportrait
Self-portrait, 1771, pastel, Musée du Louvre, Paris


Chardin was born in Paris, the son of a cabinetmaker, and rarely left the city. He lived on the Left Bank near Saint-Sulpice until 1757, when Louis XV granted him a studio and living quarters in the Louvre.[3]

Chardin entered into a marriage contract with Marguerite Saintard in 1723, whom he did not marry until 1731.[4] He served apprenticeships with the history painters Pierre-Jacques Cazes and Noël-Nicolas Coypel, and in 1724 became a master in the Académie de Saint-Luc.

According to one nineteenth-century writer, at a time when it was hard for unknown painters to come to the attention of the Royal Academy, he first found notice by displaying a painting at the "small Corpus Christi" (held eight days after the regular one) on the Place Dauphine (by the Pont Neuf). Van Loo, passing by in 1720, bought it and later assisted the young painter.[5]

Upon presentation of The Ray in 1728, he was admitted to the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture. The following year he ceded his position in the Académie de Saint-Luc. He made a modest living by "produc[ing] paintings in the various genres at whatever price his customers chose to pay him",[6] and by such work as the restoration of the frescoes at the Galerie François I at Fontainebleau in 1731.[7] In November 1731 his son Jean-Pierre was baptized, and a daughter, Marguerite-Agnès, was baptized in 1733. In 1735 his wife Marguerite died, and within two years Marguerite-Agnès had died as well.[4]

Beginning in 1737 Chardin exhibited regularly at the Salon. He would prove to be a "dedicated academician",[3] regularly attending meetings for fifty years, and functioning successively as counsellor, treasurer, and secretary, overseeing in 1761 the installation of Salon exhibitions.[8]

Chardin's work gained popularity through reproductive engravings of his genre paintings (made by artists such as François-Bernard Lépicié and P.-L. Sugurue), which brought Chardin income in the form of "what would now be called royalties".[9] In 1744 he entered his second marriage, this time to Françoise-Marguerite Pouget. The union brought a substantial improvement in Chardin's financial circumstances. In 1745 a daughter, Angélique-Françoise, was born, but she died in 1746.

In 1752 Chardin was granted a pension of 500 livres by Louis XV. At the Salon of 1759 he exhibited nine paintings; it was the first Salon to be commented upon by Denis Diderot, who would prove to be a great admirer and public champion of Chardin's work.[10] Beginning in 1761, his responsibilities on behalf of the Salon, simultaneously arranging the exhibitions and acting as treasurer, resulted in a diminution of productivity in painting, and the showing of 'replicas' of previous works.[11] In 1763 his services to the Académie were acknowledged with an extra 200 livres in pension. In 1765 he was unanimously elected associate member of the Académie des Sciences, Belles-Lettres et Arts of Rouen, but there is no evidence that he left Paris to accept the honor.[11] By 1770 Chardin was the 'Premier peintre du roi', and his pension of 1,400 livres was the highest in the Academy.[12]

In 1772 Chardin's son, also a painter, drowned in Venice, a probable suicide.[12] The artist's last known oil painting was dated 1776; his final Salon participation was in 1779, and featured several pastel studies. Gravely ill by November of that year, he died in Paris on December 6, at the age of 80.


Chardin worked very slowly and painted only slightly more than 200 pictures (about four a year) in total.[13]

Chardin's work had little in common with the Rococo painting that dominated French art in the 18th century. At a time when history painting was considered the supreme classification for public art, Chardin's subjects of choice were viewed as minor categories.[3] He favored simple yet beautifully textured still lifes, and sensitively handled domestic interiors and genre paintings. Simple, even stark, paintings of common household items (Still Life with a Smoker's Box) and an uncanny ability to portray children's innocence in an unsentimental manner (Boy with a Top [right]) nevertheless found an appreciative audience in his time, and account for his timeless appeal.

Jean-Siméon Chardin, Boy Building a House of Cards, 1735 at Waddesdon Manor
Jean-Siméon Chardin, Le Faiseur de Châteaux de Cartes (Boy Building a House of Cards), 1735 at Waddesdon Manor

Largely self-taught, Chardin was greatly influenced by the realism and subject matter of the 17th-century Low Country masters. Despite his unconventional portrayal of the ascendant bourgeoisie, early support came from patrons in the French aristocracy, including Louis XV. Though his popularity rested initially on paintings of animals and fruit, by the 1730s he introduced kitchen utensils into his work (The Copper Cistern, ca. 1735, Louvre). Soon figures populated his scenes as well, supposedly in response to a portrait painter who challenged him to take up the genre.[14] Woman Sealing a Letter (ca. 1733), which may have been his first attempt,[15] was followed by half-length compositions of children saying grace, as in Le Bénédicité, and kitchen maids in moments of reflection. These humble scenes deal with simple, everyday activities, yet they also have functioned as a source of documentary information about a level of French society not hitherto considered a worthy subject for painting.[16] The pictures are noteworthy for their formal structure and pictorial harmony.[3] Chardin said about painting, "Who said one paints with colors? One employs colors, but one paints with feeling." [17]

A child playing was a favourite subject of Chardin. He depicted an adolescent building a house of cards on at least four occasions. The version at Waddesdon Manor is the most elaborate. Scenes such as these derived from 17th-century Netherlandish vanitas works, which bore messages about the transitory nature of human life and the worthlessness of material ambitions, but Chardin's also display a delight in the ephemeral phases of childhood for their own sake.[18]

Jean-Baptiste Siméon Chardin 029
Still Life with Glass Flask and Fruit, c.1728 (note reflected light on glass/silver)

Chardin frequently painted replicas of his compositions—especially his genre paintings, nearly all of which exist in multiple versions which in many cases are virtually indistinguishable.[19] Beginning with The Governess (1739, in the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa), Chardin shifted his attention from working-class subjects to slightly more spacious scenes of bourgeois life.[20]

In 1756 Chardin returned to the subject of the still life. In the 1770s his eyesight weakened and he took to painting in pastels, a medium in which he executed portraits of his wife and himself (see Self-portrait at top right). His works in pastels are now highly valued.[21] Chardin's extant paintings, which number about 200,[6] are in many major museums, including the Louvre.


Souvenir MET DP169562
Enameled box and other objects painted after the style of Chardin

Chardin's influence on the art of the modern era was wide-ranging, and has been well-documented.[22] Édouard Manet's half-length Boy Blowing Bubbles and the still lifes of Paul Cézanne are equally indebted to their predecessor.[23] He was one of Henri Matisse's most admired painters; as an art student Matisse made copies of four Chardin paintings in the Louvre.[24] Chaim Soutine's still lifes looked to Chardin for inspiration, as did the paintings of Georges Braque, and later, Giorgio Morandi.[23] In 1999 Lucian Freud painted and etched several copies after The Young Schoolmistress (National Gallery, London).[25]

Marcel Proust, in the chapter "How to open your eyes?" from In Search of Lost Time (À la recherche du temps perdu), describes a melancholic young man sitting at his simple breakfast table. The only comfort he finds is in the imaginary ideas of beauty depicted in the great masterpieces of the Louvre, materializing fancy palaces, rich princes, and the like. The author tells the young man to follow him to another section of the Louvre where the pictures of Jean-Baptiste Chardin are. There he would see the beauty in still life at home and in everyday activities like peeling turnips.

See also


  1. ^ Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin at the Encyclopædia Britannica
  2. ^ "Jean Baptiste Simeon Chardin".
  3. ^ a b c d
  4. ^ a b Rosenberg p. 179.
  5. ^ "Histoire du Pont-Neuf".
  6. ^ a b Rosenberg and Bruyant, p. 56.
  7. ^ Rosenberg and Bruyant, p. 20.
  8. ^ Rosenberg and Bruyant, p. 23.
  9. ^ Rosenberg and Bruyant, p. 32.
  10. ^ Rosenberg, p.182.
  11. ^ a b Rosenberg, p.183.
  12. ^ a b Rosenberg, p.184.
  13. ^ Morris, Roderick Conway (December 22, 2010). "Chardin's Enchanting and Ageless Moments". The New York Times. Retrieved December 24, 2010.
  14. ^ Rosenberg, p. 71.
  15. ^ Rosenberg and Bruyant, p. 190.
  16. ^ Chardin at the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza Archived 2007-09-27 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 15 July 2007.
  17. ^ Johnson, Paul. Art: A New History, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2003, p. 414.
  18. ^ "Search Results". Retrieved 2017-04-12.
  19. ^ Rosenberg and Bruyant, pp. 68–70.
  20. ^ Rosenberg and Bruyant, pp. 187 and 242.
  21. ^ "WebMuseum: Chardin, Jean-Baptiste-Siméon".
  22. ^ "Without realizing he was doing it, he rejected his own time and opened the door to modernity". Rosenberg, cited by Wilkin, Karen, The Splendid Chardin, New Criterion. Requires subscription. Retrieved 15 October 2008.
  23. ^ a b Wilkin.
  24. ^ The Unknown Matisse: A Life of Henri Matisse, the Early Years, 1869-1908, Hilary Spurling, p.86. accessed online July 15, 2007
  25. ^ Smee, Sebastian, Lucian Freud 1996-2005, illustrated. Alfred A. Knopf, 2005.


External links

1699 in art

Events from the year 1699 in art.

1728 in art

Events from the year 1728 in art.

1731 in art

Events from the year 1731 in art.

1732 in art

Events from the year 1732 in art.

1736 in art

Events from the year 1736 in art.

1738 in art

Events from the year 1738 in art.

1740 in art

Events from the year 1740 in art.

1779 in art

Events from the year 1779 in art.

2000 in art

The year 2000 in art involves various significant events.

Bubble pipe

A bubble pipe is a toy shaped like a tobacco pipe, intended to be used for blowing soap bubbles.


Chardin is a French surname. Notable people with the surname include:

Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin, (1699–1779), French painter noted for his still life works

Jean Chardin, (1643–1713), French jeweller and traveller, author of The Travels of Sir John Chardin

Louis-Armand Chardin (1755–1793), baritone and composerChardin is a component of the surname Teilhard de Chardin:

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, (1881–1955), French Jesuit, philosopher and paleontologist

Le Bénédicité

Le Bénédicité (Grace) is a painting by the French artist Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin. Chardin made several versions of the painting, one of which was given as a gift to Louis XV. The subject of the painting is one of bourgeois, everyday tranquillity – Chardin's field of expertise, with an uncharacteristic touch of sentimentality.

List of paintings on Soviet postage stamps

List of paintings on postage stamps of former Soviet Union by title (incomplete as unattributed paintings are not included).

Louis La Caze

Dr. Louis La Caze (6 May 1798 — 28 September 1869) was a successful French physician and collector of paintings whose bequest of 583 paintings to the Musée du Louvre was one of the largest the museum has ever received. Among the paintings, the most famous are likely to be Pierrot ("Gilles") by Antoine Watteau, or Rembrandt's Bathsheba at Her Bath.

Born to a family of social standing, he retreated to simple rooms in the Latin Quarter of Paris. A dedicated student devoted to the theory of medicine, he demonstrated during the cholera epidemic of 1831-32 that cholera was not directly transmissible, by sharing the quarters of a dying patient. He was afterwards presented with a medal of honor. As he found himself in no want of fortune, he drew his practice from among the poor, pro bono, and lived a life of extreme simplicity and privacy. In 1852 he retired altogether from hospital work, discouraged at the lack of progress being made against tuberculosis and typhoid fever among the working class. In addition to his bequest to the Louvre, he left funds for the study of these two endemic diseases.

The bequest to the Louvre did not come as a surprise. For decades Dr. La Caze, who was an amateur painter himself, had haunted minor dealers in second-hand bric-a-brac, paying modest prices for paintings that were not in the mainstream of fashion and were not easily nursed through the cumbersome vetting process that led to official purchases for the Louvre. His taste was for realists and for domestic subjects that were not among the theatrical conventions of official classicism that was in vogue. As the rest of the art world caught up, La Caze was to be seen haunting the Paris auction houses. La Caze's salon in the rue du Cherche-Midi was open to progressive artists such as Degas and Manet or François Bonvin, who were training their manner on close examination of painters like Velázquez, whose Portrait of the Infanta Marie-Therese (1653) was in La Caze's collection, and Jusepe de Ribera, at a time when the Spanish school of painting was largely ignored in French official circles. La Caze, who had four of Fragonard's fancy pieces, his Portraits de fantaisie, also had an eye for the still largely unappreciated work of Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin: Chardin's Le Bénédicité, found in a quai-side flea market, was among the first purchases that hung on the doctor's walls, and Chardin's simple choices in still life and his sober colour, animated Dr La Caze's own efforts at painting.

Some 250 of La Caze's paintings were retained at the Louvre, while the rest were distributed among the provincial museums of France.

Michel-Bruno Bellengé

Michel-Bruno Bellengé (1726 - December 13, 1793) was a French painter.

Bellengé was one of the first students of the Rouen School founded by Jean-Baptiste Descamps. He won three awards there between 1748 and 1751.

He specialized in painting flowers on enamel, as well as vegetables and fruits. He worked to paint the ceiling of the La Celle-Saint-Cloud under the direction of Jean-Baptiste Marie Pierre. He also worked with Jean-Baptiste-Henri Deshays. Approved in 1762, he was received in 1764 to the Rouen Academy of Arts on the recommendation of Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin who believed in him.

Appointed director of the Turkey carpet factory in Trocadéro, he made the drawings in which the tapestries were executed for the choir of Notre Dame. It is currently housed in The Louvre.

Ruined by the French Revolution, Bellengé finished widowed and paralyzed for the rest of his life. He died December 13, 1793 in Rouen.

Richard Pionk

Richard Cletus Pionk (April 26, 1936 - June 5, 2007) was an American artist who worked in the media of pastels and oil painting and who lived, worked and taught in New York City, New York. Pionk studied classical still-life painting by spending hours in museums. He studied still-life painting in the Brooklyn Museum and other New York museums as well as the École du Louvre in Paris. Pionk studied the works of Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin, Antoine Vollon, and Henri Fantin-Latour in particular. He was educated in New York at The Art Students League of New York on scholarships and the G.I. Bill."

Saint-Germain l'Auxerrois

The Church of Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois is a Roman Catholic church in Paris situated at 2 Place du Louvre. It used to be the parish church for inhabitants of the neighbouring Louvre Palace.

Founded in the 7th century, the church was rebuilt many times over several centuries. The existing building was erected mostly in the 15th century, though some portions date to the late 13th century. It now has construction in Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance styles. The most striking exterior feature is the porch, with a rose window and a balustrade above which encircles the whole church, a work of Jean Gaussel (1435–39). The belfry, which is older than the main building, was embellished in the 19th century.

Among the treasures preserved inside are a 15th-century wooden statue of Saint Germain, a stone carved statue of Saint-Vincent, a stone sculpture of Isabelle of France, a Flemish altarpiece carved out of wood, and the famous "churchwarden's pew" where important people sat, made in 1683 by François, Le Mercier from drawings by Charles Le Brun.During the Wars of Religion, its bell called "Marie" sounded on the night of 23 August 1572, marking the beginning of the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre. Thousands of Huguenots, who visited the city for a royal wedding, were killed by the mob of Paris. A splendid stained glass still remains, in spite of plunderings during the French Revolution. The north tower was added in 1860 and stands opposite the Mairie of the 1st Arrondissement (1859).

A Tridentine mass (traditional latin Mass) is celebrated everyday at the church, as well as on Sunday. A sung Mass on Sunday evenings is also celebrated, making the church one of the few in Paris to still celebrate the Tridentine mass.Alexandre Boëly was organist at this church from 1840 to 1851. Notable burials include François de Malherbe (1628), Antoine Coysevox (1720), François Boucher (1770), and Jean-Baptiste Siméon Chardin (1779).

Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe

The Staatliche Kunsthalle (State Art Gallery) is an art museum in Karlsruhe, Germany.

The museum, created by architect Heinrich Hübsch, opened in 1846 after nine years of work in a neoclassical building next to the Karlsruhe Castle and the Karlsruhe Botanical Garden. This historical building with its subsequent extensions now houses the part of the collection covering the 14th to the 19th century while the 20th century is displayed in the nearby building of the Botanical Gardens's former orangery.

The museum notably displays paintings by the Master of the Karlsruhe Passion, Matthias Grünewald (most notably the Tauberbischofsheim altarpiece), Albrecht Dürer, Hans Baldung, Lucas Cranach the Elder, Hans Burgkmair, Rembrandt, Pieter de Hooch, Peter Paul Rubens, David Teniers the Younger, Hyacinthe Rigaud, Claude Lorrain, Nicolas Poussin, Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin, Eugène Delacroix, Gustave Courbet, Édouard Manet, Camille Pissarro, Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, Auguste Renoir, Paul Cézanne, Paul Gauguin, Caspar David Friedrich, Hans Thoma, Lovis Corinth, August Macke, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Erich Heckel, Franz Marc, Jean Marc Nattier, Max Pechstein, Max Ernst, Kurt Schwitters, Juan Gris, Yves Tanguy, Robert Delaunay, Otto Dix and Fritz von Uhde.

Wildenstein Index Number

A Wildenstein Index Number refers to an item in a numerical system published in catalogues by Daniel Wildenstein, a scholar of Impressionism, who published catalogues raisonnés of artists such as Claude Monet, Édouard Manet and Paul Gauguin through his family business, Wildenstein & Company. In these catalogues, each painting by an artist was assigned a unique number. These index numbers are now used throughout the art world, in art texts, and on art websites to uniquely identify specific works of art by specific artists.An example is the Monet: Catalogue Raisonné (ISBN 978-3-8228-8559-8), which is a four volume set published in 1996 with 2,580 illustrations in 1,540 pages. In this set, volume I is a biography and volumes II-IV contain a chronological listing of Monet's work; that is to say, volume II contains Wildenstein Index #1 produced in 1858 through #968 produced in 1885. The catalogue is produced with text in French, English, and German. The original version of this set was a five-volume black-and-white edition that has become collectible at costs of approximately U.S.$10,000 because it was originally only available to large museums or major universities' art departments. The original black-and-white version was published in 1974 in four volumes and had a 1991 supplementary volume of additional paintings as well as drawings and pastels. The 1996 revised edition in multiple languages does not include pastels, drawings, letters or footnotes from the original edition. Thus, the original is the most valuable resource for scholars.Although most of the catalogues are published with Daniel as the author, other members of the five-generation family business were also responsible for promulgating this numbering system. Daniel's father Georges Wildenstein published catalogues raisonnés for Jean-Honoré Fragonard and Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin in the 1960s. His son, Alec, has published a catalogue for Odilon Redon.

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