Portrait of Jean Siméon Chardin

About the Artist

Jean Siméon Chardin

In the art academies of eighteenth-century Europe, painters of historical and religious themes were valued far more highly than those who devoted themselves to the "minor subjects" of genre, landscape, and still life. Yet, the most inspired interpreters of the minor subjects could achieve considerable fame in their lifetimes and genuine immortality in the annals of art history. One such genius was Chardin, who was among the most revered painters of still life and genre in mid-eighteenth-century Paris. Championed particularly by the influential philosopher and art critic Denis Diderot (d. 1784), Chardin enjoyed both official and popular success. He was an honored member of the Académie Royale and a regular exhibitor at the Paris Salon, and his paintings were avidly collected by a newly affluent French middle class.

In his later still lifes, Chardin abandoned his earlier interest in the meticulous delineation of texture and detail and concentrated on more profound visual elements. Color and volume, half-light and highlight, the broad compositional interplay of solid and void—these became the underlying concerns of his mature still lifes.

Jean Siméon Chardin at the Chrysler Museum