Jean Baptiste Siméon Chardin Biography | Oil Painting Reproductions
11-2-1699 Paris, FRA – 12-6-1779 Paris, FRABack to Artist IndexView Artists Paintings
Jean Baptiste Siméon Chardin, specialized in still life and genre scenes, was born in Paris, where he spent most of his life. His father was a carpenter and initially, he seemed destined to follow this trade, until his aptitude for painting became apparent.
As a youth, Jean Baptiste Siméon Chardin trained under two very minor history painters, Pierre Cazes and Noel Nicolas Caypel, but his real education came from painting reproductions of Dutch and Flemish paintings in private art collections. These prompted him to concentrate on still-life pictures, a brave decision, since this type of painting had low reputation and was poorly paid.
Chardin was the antithesis of court art and the dominant trends in eighteenth-century French painting. He was perhaps the only artist in the 1700's who did not make a journey to Rome, or do regular academic studies. His attention was drawn instead to seventeenth-century Flemish and Dutch genre painting, and under this influence, he developed a preference for the poetic aspect of the seemingly insignificant episodes of everyday life.
A Master of Silence and Light.
Adverse to the bright, luminous tones of the fete-galante painting, he selected a subdued range of muted colors. While the court artists of his day portrayed piquant and seductive scenes set among the bushes in noble gardens and between the sheets in aristocratic bedrooms, Chardin sympathetically observed middle-class family life, alternating depictions of daily habits, routine gestures, tender feelings, and controlled emotions with still lifes of ordinary everyday objects. These wonderful vignettes of everyday life displayed none of the affectation of the prevailing Rococo style and proved enormously popular with the public.
Chardin's career flourished. In 1728, The Skate won such acclaim at a Paris exhibition that he was invited to become a full member of the Academy, an unprecedented honor for a “painter of animals and fruit.” He was delighted and became a stalwart of the institution, holding the post of Treasurer for 20 years. Even so, he found it hard to make a living and, accordingly, extended his repertoire to include simple domestic scenes.
Simeon Chardin a link between Vermeer and Cezanne.
In 1737 Chardin realized the importance of the Salons, and at the first Salon, he showed a total of seven paintings, including the Girl with Racket and Shuttlecock. This exhibit brought him instant success, and he quickly became one of the leading figures at the Salons and the Academy, taking on heavy social responsibilities. 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. 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.
This painting The Return from Market, exhibited in the 1739 Salon, is particularly striking due to its brilliant composition. The doorway opening onto the copper water tank creates a perspective that projects the girl into the foreground. She has an absent-minded expression as if her thoughts have wandered far away from the simple, realistic everyday setting.
Chardin drew up a meticulous inventory of the possessions of his first wife who died in 1737. among the list of paintings, a detailed description of Pipes And Drinking Pitcher appears, which he had given her personally. This is a sign that Chardin was aware of the intimate, touching poetry of his still lifes, especially those that were less commercially accessible. Here Chardin creates a subtle, delicate harmony of blues and whites, and a slight blurring of the objects' outlines, like the dust of memory settling softly upon them.
His art is far from being restrained. Quite the contrary, it is rich in human values and figurative choices that anticipate similar compositions in nineteenth and part of the twentieth century. Chardin's influence on the art of the modern era was wide-ranging and has been well-documented. Édouard Manet's half-length Boy Blowing Bubbles and the still lifes of Paul Cézanne are indebted to their predecessor. He was one of Henri Matisse's most admired painters; as an art student, Matisse made replicas of four Jean Baptiste Siméon Chardin paintings in the Louvre. In 1999 Lucian Freud painted and etched several copies after The Young Schoolmistress.
When Chardin painted this self-portrait (at the top left of this page) he was already 76 years old. Immediately after finishing it he decided to exhibit it at the 1775 Salon. It could sum up his existence, been one of the last pages in the story of his life. Instead, the painter who showed such delicate appreciation of reality gives us an unusual and unexpected interpretation of himself. It remains undoubtedly a fascinating work and proves that great artists are never predictable.
Artists Influencing Jean-Baptiste Chardin: Pierre Cazes, Noel Nicolas Caypel, Nicolaes Maes, Jean Baptiste Oudry
Painters Jean-Baptiste Chardin Influenced: Edouard Manet, Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse