Chardin, Jean Baptiste Siméon

Chardin, Jean Baptiste Siméon


Born Nov. 2, 1699, in Paris; died there Dec. 6,1779. French painter.

Chardin was the son of a joiner. He studied under the academic painter P. J. Cazes and in the school of the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture. He worked under N. N. Coypel and J. B. Van Loo. In 1728 he was elected to the academy for his presentation of still lifes.

Although Chardin’s early works are ornamental and superficially appealing, thorough study of nature led to a change in his style, a preference for classic simplicity and clarity. His genre paintings are pervaded by profound lyricism and love for the world of the common people. They accurately depict the physical appearance and inner world of the townspeople, for example, The Peddler Woman (1739, the Louvre, Paris), The Laundress (1774, the Hermitage, Leningrad), and Grace Before Meat (1774, the Hermitage).

Chardin is also known for his portraits, which include Boy With a Top (1738, the Louvre) and other paintings of children, his self-portraits of 1771 and 1775, and his 1775 pastel portrait of his wife, all of which are housed in the Louvre. These works are noted for their vitality, simplicity, and sincerity.

Chardin’s still lifes reveal an inner regularity and rhythm of composition. The common objects of everyday use that they depict radiate warmth and seem to quiver with almost human emotions. Notable examples include The Copper Fountain (the Louvre), Still Life With Brioche (the Louvre), The Attributes of the Arts (1760’s, A. S. Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow).

Chardin’s paintings are distinguished for their compositional integrity, due in part to the predominance of silvery grays in the color scheme. They are known for their rich use of reflexes and subtle, barely perceptible transitions from light to shade, as well as the skillful play of value gradations. Chardin’s works represent the pinnacle of 18th-century realism.


Diderot, D. Ob iskusstve, vols. 1–2. Leningrad-Moscow, 1936. (Translated from French.)
Lazarev, V. N. Sharden. Moscow, 1947.
Zolotov, Iu. K. Zhan-Batist Simeon Sharden, 1699–1779. Moscow, 1955.
Wildenstein, G. Chardin: Biographie et catalogue critiques. Paris, 1933.
Goldschmidt, E. Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin. Copenhagen, 1947.
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