Monday, March 9, 2009

The Fish Still Life 3-Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin

Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin (16991779) was an 18th-century French painter. He is considered a master of still life.He favored simple yet beautifully textured still lifes, sensitively handled domestic interiors and genre paintings. Simple, even stark, paintings of common household items, are elevated to an iconic idealization through his uncanny ability to capture the effects of light. He was a master of textures, shapes, and composition, and his impeccable drawing skill reflects his thorough understanding of the volumetric occupancy of space. This understanding of the three dimensional matrix allowed him to fill his paintings with the soft diffusion of light which appear to fill the air around the objects he painted. His brush carresses the form almost as if it emulates the light which passes over and reveals. One can feel the delight he had in painting the reflected lights and shiny glints of light which emerge out of the shadow. Largely self-taught, he was greatly influenced by the realism and subject matter of the 17th-century Dutch and Flemish masters. In 1728, The painting illustrated here, The Ray, gained for him admission to the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture.His love of truth and nature endeared him to advanced thinkers in France, the encyclopédistes in Denis Diderot's circle. Detecting a moral value in Chardin that was lacking in Boucher, Diderot became his chief intellectual supporter. "It is the business of art," he argued in 1765, "to touch and to move, and to do this by getting close to nature." Chardin epitomized that ambition at work: "Welcome back, great magician, with your mute compositions! How eloquently they speak to the artist! How much they tell him about the representation of Nature, the science of color and harmony! How freely the air flows around these objects!" "This is unfathomable wizardry. Thick coats of color are laid one on top of another, and their effect transpires from below upwards. At other times one might suppose that a mist had blown over the canvas: or again that a light foam had been thrown over it Draw close and everything becomes blurred, flattens out and disappears: draw away and everything is recreated and reproduced."


Walter Lynn Mosley said...

I love these Chardin paintings, and thanks for the elucidating series on history of fish in the still life. Thanks.

jeff f said...

Chardin is one of my favorites.
Recently I have been looking at a lot of Anne Vallayer-Coster's work as I just bought a wonderful book on her.

There is not much known about whom she studied with but I suspect she spent a lot of time studying Chardin's work.