Art Saturday: Jean-Baptiste-Simeon Chardin

A staunch member and supporter of the French Academy,  Chardin has been called master of still life.

Upon presentation of The Ray in 1728, he was admitted to the Acadèmie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture. …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. 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 [below]) nevertheless found an appreciative audience in his time, and account for his timeless appeal.

Largely self-taught, he 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 repertoire (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. At any event, he was presently painting half-length compositions of children saying grace, as in Le Bènèdicitè, 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. The pictures are noteworthy for their formal structure and pictorial harmony.

In 1756 he 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.

Chardin’s paintings are often used as prints by decorators, his subdued tones and subjects much in conformity with interiors that are calm and lend themselves to easy living.


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Ruth Calvo

Ruth Calvo

I've blogged at The Seminal for about two years, was at cabdrollery for around three. I live in N.TX., worked for Sen.Yarborough of TX after graduation from Wellesley, went on to receive award in playwriting, served on MD Arts Council after award, then managed a few campaigns in MD and served as assistant to a member of the MD House for several years, have worked in legal offices and written for magazines, now am retired but addicted to politics, and join gladly in promoting liberals and liberal policies.


  1. Chris Maukonen
    May 8, 2015 at 11:08 pm

    Well the day is right.

  2. StonyPillow
    May 9, 2015 at 6:02 am

    Only four paintings a year. Must’ve thought he was going to live forever.
    Good morning, all. Hope we’ve taken a turn for the better here.

  3. Ruth
    May 9, 2015 at 6:06 am

    Morning, good to have the Disqus system, and I am using it, putting up another very prominent Chardin work, “Boy Blowing Bubbles”. Has been copied by many other painters. On display at National Galleries

  4. Chris Maukonen
    May 9, 2015 at 8:02 am

    I like the fact that I don’t have to reload to see new comments.

  5. Ruth
    May 9, 2015 at 8:06 am

    I’ve been on Disqus at eschatonblog, there are failings but lots of good aspects.

  6. Chris Maukonen
    May 9, 2015 at 8:18 am

    I’m sixes and sevens about embedded media though. I think you should have the option of just a link.

  7. Ruth
    May 9, 2015 at 8:20 am

    no problem, you can provide a link URL after a colon, have done that too.

  8. Chris Maukonen
    May 9, 2015 at 8:22 am

    Really…how so ?

  9. Ruth
    May 9, 2015 at 8:24 am
  10. Ruth
    May 9, 2015 at 8:30 am

    Must plant veggies now before it gets too hot, check back later.

  11. Chris Maukonen
    May 9, 2015 at 8:33 am

    OK…what I meant was to show the link to a youtube or image and not embed the video or image directly. Like the old system did.

  12. Alice X
    May 9, 2015 at 8:33 am

    I am still pondering the Disqus question. Being an anti-capitalist/anti-corporatist something or other, and so-and-so.

    Sloopydrew was all over the place with concerns yesterday. One coherent statement would have done much better.

    I am working on it.

  13. Chris Maukonen
    May 9, 2015 at 9:24 am

    Having coded much in various computer languages over the years, I cannot imagine having to write a commenting system that even just works. Let alone one that allows for even the features the old one did.

    Dealing with text files on a computer I can tell you is not a piece of baklava. So I am willing to cut the tech group and admins a bit of slack on this.

    However there are other commenting system available and it would have been nice to be able to try a few others out and then decide.

  14. Chris Maukonen
    May 9, 2015 at 9:48 am

    Some disqus things I have noticed.

    If you cursor over where the comment time is 4 minutes ago you get a little box that give the absolute time of the comment. OK. If you click on this you get a yellow bar next to the commenters avitar.

    What’s that all about ?

  15. Chris Maukonen
    May 9, 2015 at 9:55 am

    I found out. The yellow bar means permalink to the comment and in your url address at the top of you browser is the url to it.

  16. May 9, 2015 at 10:34 am

    Sixes and sevens. An old numerology expression indicating the 2 adjacent numbers with the least connection giving rise to considerable uncertainty.

  17. May 9, 2015 at 10:35 am

    A colonoscopy, no doubt!

  18. May 9, 2015 at 10:38 am

    Wonderful paintings, some full of light,with the whites approaching “the clipping point” as it were, in digital language, but not going over. I spend considerable time and efforts with my images to achieve the effect I want, and careful placement of the exposure to get a workable starting point for the edit.

  19. May 9, 2015 at 11:14 am

    Turning a lemon into lemonade, Disqus can be a driver to this site by virtue of the universality of it’s availablity for commenters in any blog site using the service.This has minuses of course, not the least being a magnet for trolls.

  20. Ruth
    May 9, 2015 at 12:36 pm

    glad you enjoy them. I do like the balance and depth of appreciation, if that says it right. Of course, everything has value imho, and these are ways of seeing that makes the viewer stop and contemplate, not always easy to do.

  21. Chris Maukonen
    May 9, 2015 at 1:52 pm

    This has minuses of course, not the least being a magnet for trolls.

    {{{sigh}}} yes

  22. May 9, 2015 at 2:45 pm

    A big reason I stopped responding on sites using Disqus in the past. This is the first time in over 2 years I’ve (had to!) used it.

  23. TalkingWarrior
    May 9, 2015 at 8:27 pm

    Trolls – and Disqus’ requiring so many reloads to load, 21 reloads to get to these comments after I started counting (perseverence!) – were why I finally gave on reading what had been a truly great commenting community on WBUR’s On Point website.

    I never commented there, but they had some really great commentators, whom I noticed disappearing as the trolls took
    over until there was precious little conversation left, just a troll slugfest.