Art on This Day
Jean-Siméon Chardin, a 18th century French painter, died on 6th December in 1779.
Chardin's work had little in common with the Rococo painting that dominated French art in the 18th century. During his life and after, Chardin was venerated as a master of genre painting. Chardin’s primary subject was “la vie silencieuse” (or “the silent life”)—humble, everyday scenes and vignettes. Largely self-taught, he was greatly influenced by the realism and subject matter of the 17th-century Low Country masters. He painted scenes from family life, domestic interiors, still lifes, and occasional portraits. Chardin was admired by his peers not only for his distinct approach, but also for his ability to manipulate paint to evoke luminosity and tranquillity. Not much is certain about his training, other than the time he spent with Pierre-Jacques Cazes and Noël-Nicolas Coypel; historians believe his career ignited upon his entry to the Royal Academy of Painting as a highly regarded member. He admired Jean-Antoine Watteau, though their sensibilities were drastically different. In Chardin’s eulogy, he was remembered for having once said, “One uses colours, but one paints with feeling.” His work became popular with the general public after low-cost engravings of his paintings became available.
Chardin's influence on the art of the modern era was wide-ranging, and has been well-documented. He was one of Henri Matisse's most admired painters; as an art student Matisse made copies of four Chardin paintings in the Louvre. Chaim Soutine's still lifes looked to Chardin for inspiration, as did the paintings of Georges Braque, and later, Giorgio Morandi. In 1999 Lucian Freud painted and etched several copies after Chardin’s The Young Schoolmistress.
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