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Title: Chardin
Author: Konody, Paul G. (Paul George), 1872-1933
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Chardin" ***

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    MASTERPIECES
    IN COLOUR
    EDITED BY
    T. LEMAN HARE

    CHARDIN



IN THE SAME SERIES

    ARTIST.                    AUTHOR.

    VELAZQUEZ.                 S. L. BENSUSAN.
    REYNOLDS.                  S. L. BENSUSAN.
    TURNER.                    C. LEWIS HIND.
    ROMNEY.                    C. LEWIS HIND.
    GREUZE.                    ALYS EYRE MACKLIN.
    BOTTICELLI.                HENRY B. BINNS.
    ROSSETTI.                  LUCIEN PISSARRO.
    BELLINI.                   GEORGE HAY.
    FRA ANGELICO.              JAMES MASON.
    REMBRANDT.                 JOSEF ISRAELS.
    LEIGHTON.                  A. LYS BALDRY.
    RAPHAEL.                   PAUL G. KONODY.
    HOLMAN HUNT.               MARY E. COLERIDGE.
    TITIAN.                    S. L. BENSUSAN.
    MILLAIS.                   A. LYS BALDRY.
    CARLO DOLCI.               GEORGE HAY.
    GAINSBOROUGH.              MAX ROTHSCHILD.
    TINTORETTO.                S. L. BENSUSAN.
    LUINI.                     JAMES MASON.
    FRANZ HALS.                EDGCUMBE STALEY.
    VAN DYCK.                  PERCY M. TURNER.
    LEONARDO DA VINCI.         M. W. BROCKWELL.
    RUBENS.                    S. L. BENSUSAN.
    WHISTLER.                  T. MARTIN WOOD.
    HOLBEIN.                   S. L. BENSUSAN.
    BURNE-JONES.               A. LYS BALDRY.
    VIGÉE LE BRUN.             C. HALDANE MACFALL.
    J. F. MILLET.              PERCY M. TURNER.
    CHARDIN.                   PAUL G. KONODY.

_In Preparation_

    MEMLINC.                   W. H. JAMES WEALE.
    ALBERT DÜRER.              HERBERT FURST.
    FRAGONARD.                 C. HALDANE MACFALL.
    CONSTABLE.                 C. LEWIS HIND.
    RAEBURN.                   JAMES L. CAW.
    BOUCHER.                   C. HALDANE MACFALL.
    WATTEAU.                   C. LEWIS HIND.
    MURILLO.                   S. L. BENSUSAN.
    JOHN S. SARGENT, R.A.      T. MARTIN WOOD.

    AND OTHERS.


[Illustration: PLATE I.--STILL-LIFE. (Frontispiece)

(In the Louvre)

This "Still-Life," which is among the fine array of Chardin's pictures
at the Louvre, affords a striking illustration of the master's supreme
skill in rendering the surface qualities, textures, plastic properties,
and mutual colour relations of the most varied objects and substances,
such as porcelain, metals, linen, foodstuffs, wood, and so forth. The
composition is somewhat overcrowded, and lacks the sense of order in the
apparent disorder, that is so typical of Chardin's still-life
arrangements.]



    CHARDIN

    BY PAUL G. KONODY

    ILLUSTRATED WITH EIGHT
    REPRODUCTIONS IN COLOUR

    [Illustration: IN SEMPITERNUM.]

    LONDON: T. C. & E. C. JACK
    NEW YORK: FREDERICK A. STOKES CO.



CONTENTS


                                                                  Page
      I.                                                             9

     II.                                                            36

    III.                                                            46



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


    Plate
       I. Still-Life                                       Frontispiece
              In the Louvre

                                                                   Page
      II. La Fontaine, or the Woman Drawing Water                    14
              In the National Gallery, London

     III. L'Enfant au Toton, or the Child with the Top               24
              In the Louvre

      IV. Le Bénédicité, or Grace before Meat                        34
              In the Hermitage Collection at St. Petersburg

       V. La Gouvernante, or Mother and Son                          40
              In the Collection of Prince Liechtenstein in Vienna

      VI. La Mère Laborieuse                                         50
              In the Stockholm Museum

     VII. Le Panneau de Pêches, or the Basket of Peaches             60
              In the Louvre

    VIII. La Pourvoyeuse                                             70
              In the Louvre


[Illustration]



I


Jean-Baptiste Siméon Chardin occupies a curious position among the
artists of his time and country. His art which, neglected and despised
for many decades after his death, is now admitted by those best
competent to judge to be supreme as regards technical excellence, and,
within the narrow limits of its subject matter, to possess merits of far
greater significance than are to be found in the work of any Frenchman,
save Watteau, from the founding of the school of Fontainebleau to modern
days, is apt to be regarded as an isolated phenomenon, un-French, out of
touch, and out of sympathy with the expression of the artistic genius of
eighteenth-century France. A grave misconception of the true inwardness
of things! Rather should it be said that Chardin was the one typically
French painter among a vast crowd of more or less close followers of a
tradition imported from Italy; the one painter of the actual life of his
people among the artificial caterers for an artificial and often
depraved and lascivious taste; a man of the people, of the vast
multitude formed by a homely, simple bourgeoisie; painting for the
people the subjects that appealed to the people.

In order to understand the position of Chardin in the art of his country
it is necessary to bear in mind that the autochthonous painting of
France, the real expression of French genius, was from its early
beginnings closely connected with the art of the North, and not with
that of Italy. The style of the early French miniaturists of the
Burgundian School, of Fouquet and of Clouet, is the style of the North;
their art is interwoven with the art of Flanders. When in the time of
François I. the School of Fontainebleau, headed by Primaticcio and
Rosso, promulgated the gospel that artistic salvation could only be
found in the emulation of Raphael and the masters of the late Italian
Renaissance, and of the Bolognese eclectics; when finally degenerated
painters like Albani were held up as example, official art became
altogether Italianised and stereotyped; and the climax was reached with
the foundation of the School of Rome by Louis XIV. But, though
officially neglected and looked upon with disfavour, the national
element was not to be altogether crushed by the foreign importation.
Poussin remained French in spite of Italian training, and held aloof
from the coterie of Court painters. Jacques Callot carried on the
national tradition, though as a satirist and etcher of scenes from
contemporary life, rather than as a painter. And the Netherlands
continued directly or indirectly to stir up the sluggish stream of
national French art--directly through Watteau, who, born a Netherlander,
became the most typically French of all French painters; indirectly,
half a century earlier, through the brothers Le Nain, who drew their
subjects and inspiration from the North and their sombre colour from
Spain; and afterwards through Chardin, whose style was so closely akin
to that of the Flemings that, when he first submitted some pieces of
still-life to the members of the Academy, Largillière himself took them
to be the work of some excellent unknown Flemish painter.

What are the qualities that raise Chardin's art so high above the showy
productions of the French painters of his generation, placing him on
a pedestal by himself, and gaining for him the respect, the admiration,
the love of all artists and discerning art lovers? Why should this
painter of still-life and of small unpretentious domestic genre pieces
be extolled without reservation and ranked among the world's greatest
masters?

[Illustration: PLATE II.--LA FONTAINE (THE WOMAN DRAWING WATER)

(In the National Gallery, London)

"La Fontaine," or the "Woman Drawing Water," is one of the two examples
of Chardin's art in the National Gallery. It is the subject of which
probably most versions are in existence, and figured among the eight
pictures sent by the master to the Salon of 1737, the first exhibition
held since 1704, and the first in which Chardin appeared as a painter of
genre pictures. The original version, which bears the date 1733, is at
the Stockholm Museum, and other replicas belong to Sir Frederick Cook in
Richmond, M. Marcille in Paris, Baron Schwiter, and to the Louvre. The
picture was engraved by Cochin.]

The question finds its simplest solution in the fact that all great and
lasting art must be based on the study of Nature and of contemporary
life; that erudition and the imitation of the virtues of painters that
belong to a dead period never result in permanent appeal, especially if
they find expression in the repetition of mythological and allegorical
formulas which belong to the past, and have long ceased to be a living
language. Chardin's art is living and sincere, with never a trace of
affectation. In his paintings the most unpromising material, the most
prosaic objects on a humble kitchen table, the uneventful daily routine
of lower middle-class life, are rendered interesting by the warming
flame of human sympathy which moved the master to spend his supreme
skill upon them; by the human interest with which he knew how to invest
even inanimate objects. No painter knew like Chardin how to express in
terms of paint the substance and surface and texture of the most varied
objects; few have ever equalled him in the faultless precision of his
colour values; fewer still have carried the study of reflections to so
fine a point, and observed with such accuracy the most subtle nuances of
the changes wrought in the colour appearance of one object by the
proximity of another--but these are qualities that only an artist can
fully appreciate, and that can only be vaguely felt by the layman. They
belong to the sphere of technique. The strong appeal of Chardin's
still-life is due to the manner in which he invests inanimate objects
with living interest, with a sense of intimacy that enlists our sympathy
for the humble folk with whose existence these objects are connected,
and who, by mere accident as it were, just happen to be without the
frame of the picture. Perhaps they have just left the room, but the
atmosphere is still filled with their presence.

If ever there was a painter to whom the old saying _celare artem est
summa ars_ is applicable, surely it was Chardin! A slow, meticulously
careful worker, who bestowed no end of time and trouble upon every
canvas, and whom nothing but perfection would satisfy, he never
attempted to gain applause by a display of cleverness or by technical
fireworks. The perfection of the result conceals the labour expended
upon it and the art by means of which it is achieved. And so it is with
the composition. His still-life arrangements, where everything is
deliberate selection, have an appearance of accidental grouping as
though the artist, fascinated by the colour of some viands and utensils
on a kitchen table, had yielded to an irresistible impulse, and
forthwith painted the things just as they offered themselves to his
delighted vision. How different it all is to the conception of
still-life of his compatriots of the "grand century" and even of his own
time! It was a sad misconception of the function and range of art that
made the seventeenth century draw the distinction between "noble" and
"ignoble" subjects. When they "stooped" to still-life it had to be
ennobled--that is to say, precious stuffs, elegant furniture, bronzes
and gold or silver goblets, choice specimens of hot-house flowers, and
such like material were piled up in what was considered picturesque
abundance--and the whole thing was as theatrical and tasteless and
sham-heroic as a portrait by Lebrun, the Court favourite. Even the Dutch
and Flemish still-life painters of the period, who had a far keener
appreciation of Nature, catered for the taste that preferred the display
of riches to simple truth. Their flowers and fruit were carefully chosen
faultless specimens, accompanied generally by costly objects and stuffs;
and on the whole these large decorative pieces were painted with
wonderful accuracy in the rendering of each individual blossom or other
detail, but with utter disregard of atmosphere. It has been rightly said
that these Netherlanders gave the same _kind_ of attention to every
object, whilst Chardin bestowed upon the component parts of his
still-life compositions not the same kind, but the same _degree_ of
attention. And above all, whilst suggesting the texture and volume and
material of each individual object with faultless accuracy, Chardin
never lost sight of the ensemble--that is to say, the opposition of
values, the interchange that takes place between the colours of two
different objects placed in close proximity, the reflections which
appear not only where they would naturally be expected, as on shiny
copper or other metals, but even those on comparatively dull surfaces,
which would probably escape the attention of the untrained eye. Chardin
looked upon everything with a true painter's vision; and his brush
expressed not his knowledge of the form of things, but the visual
impression produced by their ensemble. He did not think in outline, but
in colour. If proof were needed, it will be found in the extreme
scarcity of sketches and drawings from his hand. Only very few sketches
by Chardin are known, and these few proclaim the painter rather than the
draughtsman.

Still, having pointed out the gulf that divides our master from the
still-life painters of the _grand siècle_, it is only right to add that
he did not burst upon the world as an isolated phenomenon, and that
painters like Desportes and Oudry form the bridge from Monnoyer, the
best known of the French seventeenth-century compilers of showy
monumental still-life, to Chardin. Monnoyer belongs to a time that knew
neither respect nor genuine love for Nature and her laws. He simply
followed the rules of the grand style, and had no eye for the play of
reflections and the other problems, which are the delight of the
moderns--and Chardin is essentially modern. Monnoyer's son Baptiste, and
his son-in-law Belin de Fontenay did not depart from his artificial
manner. But with Oudry, in spite of much that is still traditional in
his art, we arrive already at a new conception of still-life painting.
In a paper read by this artist to the Academy he relates how, in his
student days, when asked by Largillière to paint some flowers, he placed
a carefully chosen, gaily coloured bouquet in a vase, when his master
stopped him and said: "I have set you this task to train you for colour.
Do you think the choice you have made will do for the purpose? Get a
bunch of flowers all white." Oudry did as he was bid, and was then told
to observe that the flowers are brown on the shadow side, that on a
light ground they appear in half tones, and that the whitest of them are
darker than absolute white. Largillière then pointed out to him the
action of reflections, and made him paint by the side of the flowers
various white objects of different value for comparison. Oudry was not
a little surprised at discovering that the flowers consisted of an
accumulation of broken tones, and were given form and relief by the
magic of shadows. Both Oudry and Desportes did not consider common
objects unworthy of their attention, and in this way led up to the type
of work in which Chardin afterwards achieved his triumphs.

[Illustration: PLATE III.--L'ENFANT AU TOTON (THE CHILD WITH THE TOP)

(In the Louvre)

"L'Enfant au Toton" ("The Child with the Top") is the portrait of
Auguste Gabriel Godefroy, son of the jeweller Godefroy, and is the
companion picture to the "Young Man with the Violin," which represents
the child's elder brother Charles. The two pictures were bought in 1907
for the Louvre, at the high price of 350,000 francs. "L'Enfant au Toton"
was first exhibited at the Salon of 1738, and was engraved by Lépicié in
1742. A replica of the picture was in the collection of the late M.
Groult. It is one of Chardin's most delightful presentments of innocent
childish amusement, and illustrates at the same time the master's
supreme skill in the painting of still-life.]

Chardin's still-life pictures never appear to be grouped to form
balanced arrangements of line and colour. The manner how the objects are
seen in the accidental position in which they were left by the hands
that used them holds more than a suggestion of genre painting. Indeed,
it may be said that all Chardin's still-life partakes of genre as much
as his genre partakes of still-life. A loaf of bread, a knife, and a
black bottle on a crumpled piece of paper; a basket, a few eggs, and a
copper pot, and such like material, suffice for him to create so vivid a
picture of simple home life, that only the presence of the housewife
or serving-maid is needed to raise the painting into the sphere of
domestic genre. Sometimes this scarcely needed touch of actual life is
given by the introduction of some domestic animal; and in these cases we
already find a hint of that unity of conception which in Chardin's genre
pieces links the living creature to the surrounding inanimate objects.
Take the famous "Skate" at the Louvre. On a table you see an earthen
pot, a saucepan, a kettle, and a knife, grouped in accidental disorder
on a negligently spread white napkin on the right; on the left are some
fish and oysters and leeks, and from the wall behind is suspended a huge
skate. A cat is carefully feeling its way among the oyster-shells,
deeply interested in the various victuals which it eyes with eager
longing. Even more pronounced is this attitude of interest in Baron
Henri de Rothschild's "Chat aux Aguets." Here a crouching cat, half
puzzled, half excited, is seen in the extreme left corner, crouching in
readiness to spring at a dead hare that is lying between a partridge and
a magnificent silver tureen, and is obviously the object of the feline's
hesitating attention.

It is this complete absorption of the protagonists of Chardin's
genre scenes in their occupations or thoughts that fills his work
with such profound human interest. Chardin is never anecdotal, never
sentimental--in this respect, as well as in the solidity of his
technique, and in his scientific search for colour values and
atmosphere, he is vastly superior to Greuze, whose genre scenes are
never free from literary flavour and from a certain kind of affectation.
Nor does Chardin ever fancy himself in the rôle of the moralist like our
own Hogarth, with whom he has otherwise so much in common. He looks upon
his simple fellow-creatures with a sympathetic eye, watching them in the
pursuit of their daily avocation, the women conscientiously following
the routine of their housework or tenderly occupied with the education
of their children, the children themselves intent upon work or
play--never posing for artistic effect, but wholly oblivious of the
painter's watching eye. Chardin was by no means the first of his
country's masters to devote himself to contemporary life. Just as Oudry
took the first hesitating steps towards the Chardinesque conception of
still-life, so Jean Raoux busied himself in the closing days of the
seventeenth century with creating records of scenes taken from the daily
life of the people, but he never rid himself of the sugary affected
manner that was the taste of his time. It was left to Chardin to
introduce into the art of genre painting in France the sense of
intimacy, the homogeneous vision, the atmosphere of reality which we
find in such masterpieces as the "Grace before Meat," "The Reading
Lesson," "The Governess," "The Convalescent's Meal," "The Card Castle,"
the "Récureuse," the "Pourvoyeuse," and the famous "Child with the Top,"
which, after having changed hands in 1845, at the time when Chardin was
held in slight esteem, for less than £25, was recently bought for the
Louvre, together with the companion portrait of Charles Godefroy, "The
Young Man with the Violin," for the enormous price of £14,000.

In the case of each of these pictures the first thing that strikes your
attention is the complete absorption of the personages in their
occupation. In the picture of the boy building the card castle you can
literally see him drawing in his breath for fear of upsetting the
fragile structure which he is erecting. You imagine you can hear the
sigh of relief with which the "Pourvoyeuse"--the woman returning from
market--deposits her heavy load of bread on the dresser, whilst the
sudden release of the weight that had been supported by her left arm
seems to increase the strain on her right. How admirable is the
expression of keen attention on the puckered brow of the child who in
"The Reading Lesson" tries to follow with plump finger the line
indicated by the school-mistress; or the solicitude of the governess
who, whilst addressing some final words of advice or admonition to the
neatly dressed boy about to depart for school, has just for the moment
ceased brushing his three-cornered hat. There is no need to give further
instances. In all Chardin's subject pictures he opens a door upon the
home life of the simple bourgeoisie to which he himself belonged by
birth and character, and allows you to watch from some safe hiding-place
the doings of these good folk who are utterly unaware of your presence.

Having devoted his early years to still-life, and his prime to domestic
genre, Chardin lived long enough to weary his public and critics, and to
find himself in the position of a fallen favourite. But though his
eyesight had become affected, and his hands had lost the sureness of
their touch, so that he had practically to give up oil-painting, he
entered in his last years upon a short career of glorious achievement
in an entirely new sphere--he devoted himself to portraiture in pastel,
and gained once more the enthusiastic applause of the people, even
though the critics continued to exercise their severe and prejudiced
judgment, and to blame him for that very verve and violence of technique
which later received the Goncourt brothers' unstinted praise. "What
surprising images. What violent and inspired work; what scrumbling and
modelling; what rapid strokes and scratches!" His pastel portraits of
himself and of his second wife, and his magnificent head of a jockey
have the richness and plastic life of oil-paintings, and have indeed
more boldness and virility than the work even of the most renowned of
all French pastellists, La Tour. In view of their freshness and vigour,
it is difficult to realise that they are the work of a suffering
septuagenarian.

The mention of the hostility shown by Chardin's contemporary critics
towards the system of juxtaposing touches of different colour in his
pastels, opens up a very interesting question with regard to the
master's technique of oil-painting and of the eighteenth-century
critics' attitude towards it. There is no need to dwell upon the comment
of a man like Mariette, who discovers in Chardin's paintings the signs
of too much labour, and deplores the "heavy monotonous touch, the lack
of ease in the brushwork, and the coldness of his work"--the "coldness"
of the master who, alone among all the painters of his time and country,
knew how to fill his canvases with a luscious warm atmosphere, and to
blend his tones in the mellowest of harmonies! "His colour is not true
enough," runs another of Mariette's comments.

[Illustration: PLATE IV.--LE BÉNÉDICITÉ (GRACE BEFORE MEAT)

(In the Louvre)

"Le Bénédicité," or "Grace before Meat," is perhaps the most popular and
best known of all Chardin's domestic genre pieces. It combines the
highest technical and artistic qualities with a touching simplicity of
sentiment that must endear it even to those who cannot appreciate its
artistry. Several replicas of it are known, but the original is probably
the version in the Hermitage Collection at St. Petersburg. The Louvre
owns two examples--one from the collection of Louis XV., another from
the La Caze Collection. This latter version appeared three times in the
Paris sale-rooms, the last time in 1876, when it realised the sum of
£20! Another authentic replica is in the Marcille Collection, and yet
another at Stockholm.]

Let us now listen to Diderot, though in fairness it should be stated
that the remarks which follow refer to Chardin's later work between 1761
and 1767. First of all he is set down as "ever a faithful imitator of
Nature in his own manner, which is rude and abrupt--a nature low,
common, and domestic." A strange pronouncement on the part of the same
ill-balanced critic who, four years later, condemned Boucher because "in
all this numberless family you will not find one employed in a real act
of life, studying his lesson, reading, writing, stripping hemp." Thus
Chardin's vice is turned into virtue when it is a question of abusing a
master who avoided the "low, common, and domestic." In his topical
criticism on the Salon of 1761 Diderot tells us of Chardin, that it is
long since he has "finished" anything; that he shirks trouble, and works
like a man of the world who is endowed with talent and skill. In 1765
Diderot utters the following curious statement: "Chardin's technique is
strange. When you are near you cannot distinguish anything; but as you
step back the objects take form and begin to be real nature." On a later
occasion he describes Chardin's style as "a harsh method of painting
with the thumb as much as with the brush; a juxtaposition of touches, a
confused and sparkling accumulation of pasty and rich colours."
Diderot is borne out by Bachaumont who at the same period writes:
"His method is irregular. He places his colours one after the other,
almost without mixing, so that his work bears a certain resemblance to
mosaic, or _point carré_ needlework." This description, given by two
independent contemporaries, almost suggests the technique of the modern
impressionists and pointillists; and if the present appearance of
Chardin's paintings scarcely tallies with Diderot's and Bachaumont's
explanation, it should not be forgotten that a century and a half have
passed over these erstwhile "rude and violent" mosaics of colour
touches, and that this stretch of time is quite sufficient to allow the
colours to re-act upon each other--in a chemical sense, to permeate each
other, to fuse and blend, and to form a mellow, warm, harmonious surface
that shows no trace of harsh and abrupt touches. Thus it would appear
that Chardin discounted the effects of time and worked for posterity.
In one of his rare happy moments Diderot realised this fact, and took up
the cudgels for our master. In his critique of the 1767 Salon he
explains that "Chardin sees his works twelve years hence; and those who
condemn him are as wrong as those young artists who copy servilely at
Rome the pictures painted 150 years ago."



II


Chardin's physical appearance, such as we find it in authentic
portraits, his character, as it is revealed to us by his words and his
actions, and the whole quiet and comparatively uneventful course of his
life, are in most absolute harmony with his art. Indeed, Chardin's
personality might, with a little imagination, be reconstructed from his
pictures. He was a bourgeois to the finger-tips--a righteous,
kind-hearted, hard-working man who never knew the consuming fire of a
great passion, and who was apparently free from the vagaries,
inconsistencies, and irregularities usually associated with the artistic
temperament. Though never overburdened with the weight of worldly
possessions, he was never in real poverty, never felt the pangs of
hunger. He had as good an education as his father's humble condition
would permit, and his choice of a career not only met with no
opposition, but was warmly encouraged. In his profession he rose slowly
and gradually to high honour, and never experienced serious rebuffs or
checks. His disposition was not of the kind to kindle enmity or even
jealousy. His early affection for the girl who was to become his first
wife was faithful, but not of the kind to prompt him to hasty action--he
waited until his financial position enabled him to keep a modest home,
and then he married. He married a second time, nine years after his
first wife's death, and this time his choice fell upon a widow with a
small fortune, a practical shrewd woman, who was of no little help to
him in the management of his affairs. It was not exactly a love match,
but the two simple people suited each other, were of the same social
position, and in similar comfortable circumstances, and managed to live
peacefully and contentedly in modest bourgeois fashion.

How dull, how bald, how negative the smooth course of this life of
virtue and honest labour seems, contrasted with the eventful, stormy,
passionate life of a Boucher or a Fragonard who were in the stream of
fashion, and adopted the manner and licentiousness and vices of their
courtly patrons. There is never an immodest thought, never a piquant
suggestion in Chardin's paintings. They reflect his own life; perhaps
they represent the very surroundings in which he spent his busy days,
for we find in their sequence the clear indication of growing prosperity
from a condition which verges on poverty--respectable, not sordid,
poverty--to comparative luxury; from drudgery in kitchen and courtyard
to tea in the cosy parlour. There can be but little doubt that many
a time the master's brush was devoted to the recording of his own home,
his own family, the even tenor of his life.

[Illustration: PLATE V.--LA GOUVERNANTE (MOTHER AND SON)

(In the collection of Prince Liechtenstein in Vienna)

"La Gouvernante," or "Mother and Son," is one of the most attractive of
the many Chardin pictures in the collection of Prince Liechtenstein in
Vienna. Observe the perfectly natural attitude of the woman and the
child, in which there is not the slightest hint of posing for the
artist. Like all Chardin's genre pictures, it is, as it were, a glimpse
of real life. This picture and its companion "La Mère Laborieuse"
figured at the sale of Chardin's works after his death, when his art
received such scant appreciation that the pair only realised 30 livres 4
sous!]

The man's character--and more than that, his _milieu_--are expressed in
no uncertain fashion in his three auto-portraits, two of which are at
the Louvre, and one in the Collection of M. Léon Michel-Lévy. A good,
kind-hearted, simple-minded man he appears in these pastel portraits,
which all date from the last years of his life, a man incapable of
wickedness or meanness, and endowed with a keen sense of humour that
lingers about the corners of his mouth. It is a face that immediately
enlists sympathy by its obvious readiness for sympathy with others. And
so convincing are these portraits in their straightforward bold
statement, that they may be accepted as documentary testimony to the
man's character, even if we had not the evidence of Fragonard's much
earlier portrait of Chardin, which was until recently in the Rodolphe
Kann Collection, and is at present in the possession of Messrs. Duveen
Bros. With the exception of such differences as may be accounted for by
the differences of age, all these portraits tally to a remarkable
degree. The features are the same, and the expression is identical--the
same keen, penetrating eyes, which even in his declining years have lost
none of their searching intelligence, even though they have to be aided
by round horn-rimmed spectacles; the same revelation of a lovable
nature, even though in M. Michel-Lévy's version worry and suffering have
left their traces on the features. He is the embodiment of decent
middle-class respectability. Decency and a high sense of honour marked
every act of his life, and decency had to be kept up in external
appearances. On his very deathbed, when he was tortured by the pangs of
one of the most terrible of diseases, dropsy having set in upon stone,
he still insisted upon his daily shave!

Yet Chardin, the bourgeois incarnate, was anything but a Philistine.
From this he was saved by his life-long devotion to, and his ardent
enthusiasm for, his art. He was not given to bursts of the theatrical
eloquence that is so dear to the men of his race; but the scanty records
we have of his sayings testify to the humble, profound respect in which
he held the art of painting. "Art is an island of which I have only
skirted the coast-line," runs the often quoted phrase to which he gave
utterance at a time when he had attained to his highest achievement. To
an artist who talked to him about his method of improving the colours,
he replied in characteristic fashion: "And who has told you, sir, that
one paints with colours?" "With what then?" questioned his perplexed
interviewer. "One _uses_ colours, but one paints with feeling."

Brilliant technician as he was, and admirable critic of his own and
other artists' work, Chardin lacked the gift to communicate his
knowledge to others. He was a bad teacher--he was a wretched teacher.
Even such pliable material as Fragonard's genius yielded no results to
his honest efforts. It was Boucher who, at the height of his vogue and
overburdened with commissions that did not allow him the time to devote
himself to the nursing of a raw talent, recommended Fragonard to work in
Chardin's studio; but six months' teaching by the master failed to bring
out the pupil's brilliant gifts. Chardin knew not how to impart his
marvellous technique to young Fragonard, and Fragonard returned to
Boucher without having appreciably benefited by Chardin's instruction.
The master had no better luck with his own son, though in this case the
failure was due rather to lack of talent than to bad teaching, for Van
Loo and Natoire were equally unsuccessful in their efforts to develop
the unfortunate young man's feeble gifts. There is a touch of deepest
pathos in the reference made by Chardin to his son at the close of an
address to his Academic colleagues in 1765: "Gentlemen, gentlemen, be
indulgent! He who has not felt the difficulty of art does nothing that
counts; he who, like my son, has felt it too much, does nothing at all.
Farewell, gentlemen, and be indulgent, be indulgent!"

Chardin had no artistic progeny to carry on his tradition, partly,
perhaps, because he failed as a teacher, more probably because the
Revolution and the Empire were close at hand when he died, and because
the social upheavals led to new ideals and to an art that was based on
an altogether different æsthetic code. The star of David rose when
Chardin's gave its last flickers; and Chardin himself was among the
commissioners who signed on the 10th of January 1778 the highly
laudatory report on David's large battle sketch sent to Paris by the
Director of the School of Rome. Yet who would venture to-day to mention
the two in the same breath. David has fallen into well-deserved
oblivion, and the example of Chardin's glorious paintings has done what
was beyond the master's own power--it has created a School that is daily
enlisting an increasing number of highly gifted followers. Chardin's
name is honoured and revered in every modern painter's studio.



III


Jean-Baptiste Siméon Chardin was born in Paris on November 2, 1699, the
second son of Jean Chardin, cabinetmaker, or to be more strict,
billiard-table maker, a hard-working man who rose to be syndic of his
corporation, but who, the father of a family of five, was fortunately
not sufficiently prosperous to give his son a literary education. I say
fortunately, because it was probably his ignorance of mythology and
classic lore that made Chardin, who often bitterly regretted his
educational deficiencies, turn his attention to those subjects which
required a keenly observing eye and a sure hand, and not a fertile
imagination stimulated by book-knowledge. His lack of education saved
Chardin from allegorical and mythological clap-trap, and made him the
great painter of the visible world of his time. Though Jean Chardin
wanted his son to take up his own profession, he was quick in
recognising and encouraging the boy's early talent, and finally made him
enter the Atelier of Pierre Jacques Cazes where Siméon received his
first systematic training. Cazes was a capable enough painter in the
traditional grand manner of Le Brun, which had been taught to him by Bon
Boullogne. He had taken the Prix de Rome, and issued victorious from
several other competitions, but, like Rigaud and Largillière and several
other distinguished painters of the period, never availed himself of the
privilege entailed by the award of the Prix de Rome. Indeed, he was not
a little proud of this fact, as he showed by his reply to Crozat who
commiserated with him for having never seen the Italian masterpieces--"I
have proved that one can do without them." Yet whatever merit there may
have been in Cazes' work, and whatever may have been his own opinion on
this subject, prosperity came not his way; and although he was appointed
Professor at the Academy, and rose to great popularity as a teacher, he
remained so poor that he could not afford to provide his pupils with
living models. They had to learn what they could from copying their
master's compositions and studies.

The copying of designs, based on literary conceptions and knowledge of
the classics, could not possibly be either beneficial or attractive for
a youth who lacked the education needed for understanding these
subjects, and who was, moreover, deeply interested in the life that came
under his personal observation. The tasks set to him by Cazes must have
appeared to Chardin like the drudgery of acquiring proficiency in a
hieroglyphic language that conveyed no definite meaning to him. Still,
Chardin made such progress under his first master that Noël Nicolas
Coypel engaged him as assistant to paint the details in some
decorative over-door panels representing the Seasons and the Pleasures
of the Chase.

[Illustration: PLATE VI.--LA MÈRE LABORIEUSE

(In the Stockholm Museum)

"La Mère Laborieuse," which is the companion picture to "La
Gouvernante," was first exhibited at the Salon of 1745, where it
attracted the attention of Count Tessin, who immediately commissioned
the replica which is now at the Stockholm Museum. The picture was
engraved by Lépicié in the same year in which it was first exhibited.]

In Coypel Chardin found a master of very different calibre--a teacher
after his own heart. The systematised knowledge of the principles
adopted by the late Bolognese masters, rules of composition and of the
distribution of light and shade, were certainly of little use to him
when, on beginning his work in Coypel's studio, he was set the task of
painting a gun in the hand of a sportsman. Chardin was amazed at the
trouble taken by his employer, and at the amount of thought expended by
him upon the placing and lighting of the object. The painting of this
gun was Chardin's first valuable lesson. He was made to realise the
importance of a comparatively insignificant accessory. He was shown how
its position would affect the rhythm of the design. He was taught to
paint with minute accuracy whatever his eye beheld. He was told,
perhaps for the first time, that it was not enough to paint a
hieroglyphic that will be recognised to represent a gun, but that the
paint should express the true appearance of the object, its plastic
form, its surface, the texture of the material, the play of light and
shade and reflections. The lesson of this gun gave the death blow to
traditional recipes, and laid the foundation of Chardin's art.

Chardin did well under the new tuition, so well that Jean-Baptiste Van
Loo engaged him to help in the restoration of some paintings in the
gallery of Fontainebleau. It must have been a formidable task, since not
only Chardin, but J. B. Van Loo's younger brother Charles and some
Academy students were made to join the master's staff. Five francs a day
and an excellent dinner on the completion of the work were the wages for
the job which in some way was a memorable event in our master's life.
With the exception of a visit to Rouen in his old age, the trip to
Fontainebleau afforded Chardin the only glimpse he ever had of the
world beyond Paris and the surrounding district.

The first record we have of Chardin's independent activity has reference
to an astonishing piece of work which has disappeared long since, but is
known to us from an etching by J. de Goncourt. The work in question was
a large signboard, 14 feet 3 inches long by 2 feet 3 inches wide,
commissioned from him by a surgeon who was on terms of friendship with
Chardin's father. Perhaps the young artist had seen Watteau's famous
signboard for Gersaint, now in the German Emperor's Collection. However
this may be, like Watteau he departed from the customary practice of
filling the board with a design made up of the implements of the
patron's craft,[1] and painted an animated street scene, representing
the sequel to a duel. The scene is outside the house of a surgeon who
is attending to the wound of the defeated combatant, whilst a group of
idle folk of all conditions, attracted by curiosity, have assembled in
the street, and are watching the proceedings, and excitedly discussing
the occurrence. Although Goncourt's etching naturally gives no
indication of the colour and technique of this remarkable and
unconventional painting, it enables us to see the very natural and
skilful grouping and the excellent management of light and shade which
Chardin had mastered even at that early period.

The sign was put up on a Sunday, and attracted a vast crowd whose
exclamations induced the surgeon to step outside his house and ascertain
the cause of the stir. Being a man of little taste, his anger was
aroused by Chardin's bold departure from convention, but the general
approval with which the _quartier_ greeted Chardin's original conception
soon soothed his ruffled spirit, and the incident led to no further
unpleasantness.

Save for the story of the surgeon's sign, nothing is known of Chardin's
doings from his days of apprenticeship to his first appearance, in 1728,
at the _Exposition de la Jeunesse_, a kind of open-air Salon without
jury, held annually in the Place Dauphine on Corpus Christi day, between
6 A.M. and midday, "weather permitting." With the exception of the
annual Salon at the Louvre, which was only open to the works of the
members of the Academy, this _Exposition de la Jeunesse_ was the only
opportunity given to artists for submitting their works to the public.
At the time when Chardin made his début at this picture fair, the annual
Academy Salon instituted by Louis XIV. had been abandoned for some
years, so that even the members of the Academy were driven to the Place
Dauphine in order to keep in touch with the public. In the contemporary
criticisms of the _Mercure_ the names of all the greatest French masters
of the first half of the eighteenth century are to be found among the
exhibitors of the _Jeunesse_--the shining lights of the profession,
Coypel, Rigaud, De Troy, among the crowd of youngsters eager to make
their reputation. Lancret, Oudry, Boucher, Nattier, Lemoine--none of
them disdained to show their works under conditions which had much more
in common with those that obtain at an annual fair, than with those we
are accustomed to associate with a picture exhibition. The spectacle of
dignified Academicians thus seeking public suffrage in the street
finally induced Louis de Boullogne, Director of the Academy, to seek for
an amelioration of the prevailing conditions, and thanks to the
intervention of the Comptroller-general of the King's Buildings the
Salon of the Louvre was re-opened in 1725 for a term of four
days--"outsiders" being excluded as of yore.

On Corpus Christi day, 1728, Chardin, then in his twenty-ninth year,
availed himself for the first time of the opportunity given to rising
talent, and made his appearance at the Place Dauphine with a dozen
still-life paintings, including "The Skate" and "The Buffet"--the two
masterpieces which are counted to-day among the treasured possessions of
the Louvre. This sudden revelation of so personal and fully developed a
talent caused no little stir. Chardin was hailed as a master worthy to
be placed beside the great Netherlandish still-life painters, and was
urged by his friends to "present himself" forthwith at the Academy.
Chardin reluctantly followed the advice, and, having arranged his
pictures ready for inspection in the first room of the Academy at the
Louvre, retired to an adjoining apartment, where he awaited, not without
serious misgivings, the result of his bold venture.

His fears proved to be unfounded. A contemporary of Chardin's has left
an amusing account of what befell our timid artist. M. de Largillière
entered the first room and carefully examined the pictures placed there
by Chardin. Then he passed into the next room to speak to the
candidate. "You have here some very fine pictures which are surely the
work of some good Flemish painter--an excellent school for colour, this
Flemish school. Now let us see your works." "Sir, you have just seen
them." "What! these were your pictures?" "Yes, sir." "Then," said
Largillière, "present yourself, my friend, present yourself." Cazes,
Chardin's old master, likewise fell into the innocent trap, and was
equally complimentary, without suspecting the authorship of the exposed
pictures. In fact, he undertook to stand as his pupil's sponsor. When
Louis de Boullogne, Director of the Academy and painter to the king,
arrived, Chardin informed him that the exhibited pictures were painted
by him, and that the Academy might dispose of those which were approved
of. "He is not yet 'confirmed' (_agréé_) and he talks already of being
'received' (_reçu_)![2] However," he added, "you have done well to
mention it." He reported the proposal, which was immediately
accepted. The ballot resulted in Chardin being at the same time,
"confirmed" and "received." On Sept. 25, 1728, he was sworn in, and
became a full member of the Academy. In recognition of his rare genius,
and in consideration of his impecunious condition, his entrance fee was
reduced to 100 livres. "The Buffet" and a "Kitchen" piece were accepted
as "diploma pictures."

[Illustration: PLATE VII.--LE PANNEAU DE PÊCHES

(In the Louvre)

"Le Panneau de Pêches," (The Basket of Peaches) is a magnificent
instance of Chardin's extraordinary skill in the rendering of textures
and substances. Note the perfect truth of all the colour-values, the
play of light and shade and reflections, such as the opening up of the
shadow thrown by the tumbler owing to the refractive qualities of the
wine contained in the glass. Note, also, the "accidental" appearance of
the carefully grouped objects--the manner in which the knife-handle
projects from the table. The plate is reproduced from the original
painting at the Louvre in Paris.]

In spite of this sudden success, Chardin was by no means on the road to
fortune. His pictures sold slowly and at very low prices. He always had
a very modest opinion of the financial value of his works, and was ever
ready to part with them at ridiculously low prices, or to offer them as
presents to his friends. The story goes that on one occasion, when his
friend Le Bas wished to buy a picture which Chardin was just finishing,
he offered to exchange it for a pretty waistcoat. When the king's sister
admired one of his pastel portraits and asked the price, he immediately
begged her to accept it "as a token of gratitude for her interest in his
work." Admirably tactful is the form in which Chardin gives practical
expression to his gratitude for M. de Vandières' successful efforts at
procuring him a pension from the king. Through Lépicié, the secretary of
the Academy, he begs Vandières to accept the dedication of an engraving
after his "Lady with a Bird-organ"; and asks permission to state on the
margin _that the original painting is in the Collection of M. de
Vandières_. The request was granted.

Small wonder, then, if in spite of the modesty of his personal
requirements Chardin, even after his election to the Academy, had to
wait over two years before he was in a position to marry Marguerite
Sainctar, whom he had met at a dance some years before, and who during
the period of waiting had lost her health, her parents, and her modest
fortune, and had to go to live with her guardian. Chardin's father, who
had warmly approved of his son's engagement, now objected to the
marriage, but nothing could deter Siméon from his honourable purpose,
and the marriage took place at St. Sulpice on February 1, 1731. He took
his wife to his parents' house at the corner of the Rue Princesse,
where he had been living before his marriage, and before the end of
the year he was presented with a son, who was given the name Pierre
Jean-Baptiste. Two years later a daughter was born--Marguerite Agnes;
but Chardin's domestic happiness was not destined to last long, for on
April 14, 1735, he lost both wife and daughter.

His son was, however, his greatest source of grief. Remembering the
imaginary disadvantages he had suffered from his lack of humanistic
education, he determined that his boy should be better equipped for the
artistic profession, and had him thoroughly well instructed in the
classics. He then had him prepared at one of the Academy ateliers for
competing for the Prix de Rome. No doubt owing to his father's then
rather powerful influence, Pierre Chardin gained the coveted prize in
1754, and after having passed his three years' probation at the recently
established _École des élèves protégés_, which he had entered with the
second batch of pupils by whom the first successful "Romans" were
replaced, he set out for Rome in October 1757. But Pierre, discouraged
perhaps from his earliest attempts by the perfection of his father's art
which he could never hope to attain, indolent moreover and intractable,
made little progress under Natoire, who was then Director of the School
of Rome. Pierre worked little, quarrelled with his colleagues, and never
produced either a copy or an original work that was considered good
enough to be sent to Paris. "He does not know how to handle the brush,
and what he does looks like a tired and not very pleasing attempt," runs
Natoire's report to Marigny in 1761. He returned to Paris in 1762, but
his whole life was a failure. He fully realised his inability ever to
arrive at artistic achievement. In 1767 he went to Venice with the
French ambassador, the Marquis de Paulmy, and was never heard of since.
It was said that he had found his death in the waters of a Venetian
Canal.

But to return to Siméon Chardin--we find him again among the exhibitors
of the Place Dauphine in 1732, with some pieces of still-life, two large
decorative panels of musical trophies, and a wonderfully realistic
painting in imitation of a bronze bas-relief after a terra-cotta of
Duquesnoy. These imitation reliefs were then much in vogue for
over-doors and wall decorations in the houses of the great, as, for
instance, in the Palace of Compiègne. Two authentic pieces of the kind,
executed in grisaille, are in the Collection of Dr. Tuffier. The one of
the 1732 exhibition was bought by Van Loo for 200 livres, and is now in
the Marcille Collection. According to contemporary criticism the
bronze-tone of the relief was so perfectly rendered that it produced an
illusion "which touch alone can destroy."

About this time Chardin's still-life period comes to a close, and we
find him henceforth devoting the best of his power to the domestic genre
"à la Teniers" (as it was dubbed by his own patrons and contemporaries),
though even in later years still-life pieces continue to figure now and
then among his Salon exhibits. His first triumphs in the new field of
action were scored in 1734, when his sixteen contributions to the
_Jeunesse_ exhibition included the "Washerwoman" (now in the Hermitage
Collection), the "Woman drawing Water" (painted in several versions or
replicas, of which the best known are at the Stockholm Museum, and in
the Collections of Sir Frederick Cook at Richmond and of M. Eudoxe
Marcille in Paris); the "Card Castle" (now in the Collection of Baron
Henri de Rothschild); and the "Lady sealing a Letter" (in the German
Emperor's Collection). It is interesting to note that this last named
picture is the only genre piece by Chardin with life size figures.

Chardin's new departure immediately found favour, and although he
continued to charge ludicrously inadequate prices for his work, which,
with the deliberate slowness of his method, prevented him from rising to
well deserved prosperity, he not only experienced no difficulty in
disposing of his pictures, but had to duplicate and reduplicate them to
meet the demand of his patrons, foremost among whom were the Swedish
Count Tessin and the Austrian Prince Liechtenstein. In view of the many
versions that exist of most of the master's genre pieces it is often
difficult or impossible to decide which is the original, and which a
replica. The artist's modesty with regard to his charges may be gathered
from the fact that, at the time of his highest vogue, he only asked
twenty-five louis-d'or a piece for two pictures commissioned by Count
Tessin, whilst the painter Wille was able to secure a pair for
thirty-six livres.

Three of the genre pictures of the 1734 exhibition were sent by Chardin
in the following year to a competitive show held by the Academicians to
fill the vacancies of professor, adjuncts, and councillors of the
Academy; but Chardin was among the unsuccessful candidates, the votes
declaring in favour of Michel and Carle Van Loo, Boucher, Natoire,
Lancret, and Parrocel.

The regular course of the Academy Salons, which had been interrupted
since 1704, save for the tentative four days' exhibition at the Louvre
in 1725, was resumed in 1737, first in alternate years, and then
annually without break until the present day. At the inaugural
exhibition Chardin exhibited again the three pieces of the 1732 and 1735
shows, together with Van Loo's bronze relief, the portrait of his friend
Aved (known as "Le Souffleur," or "The Chemist"), and several pictures
of children playing, a class of subject in which the master stands
unrivalled among the Frenchmen of his time. Fragonard, of course,
achieved greatness as a painter of children, but to him the child was an
object for portraiture, whilst Chardin, the student of life, painted the
_life_, the work and pleasures, of the child, at the same time never
losing sight of portraiture.

[Illustration: PLATE VIII.--LA POURVOYEUSE

(In the Louvre)

"La Pourvoyeuse," of which picture the first dated version, painted in
1738, is in the possession of the German Emperor, is one of the most
masterly of Chardin's earlier pictures of homely incidents of everyday
life. The attitude of the woman, who has just returned from market and
is depositing her load of victuals, is admirably true to life; and the
still-life painting of the black bottles on the ground, the pewter
plate, the loaf of bread, and so forth, testifies to the master's
supreme skill. From the glimpse of the courtyard through the open door,
it can be seen that the setting of the sun is identical with that of
"The Fountain"--that is to say, that it represents the modest house in
the Rue Princesse, in which Chardin lived up to the time of his second
marriage. Another replica is in the collection of Prince Liechtenstein
in Vienna. Our plate is reproduced from the version in the Louvre.]

His success was decisive. His reputation was now firmly established,
and still further increased by his next year's exhibit of eight
pictures--among them the "Boy with the Top," and also the "Lady sealing
a Letter," which he had already shown at the Jeunesse exhibition in
1734. Six pictures followed in the next year, including the "Governess,"
the "Pourvoyeuse" (now in the Louvre), and the "Cup of Tea"; and in 1740
his popularity reached its zenith with the exhibition of his masterpiece
"Grace before Meat" (_le Bénédicité_), in addition to which he showed
the two _singeries_--"The Monkey Painter" and "The Monkey Antiquary"
(now in the Louvre)--even Chardin could not hold out against the bad
taste which applauded this stupid invention of the Netherlanders--and
several other domestic genre pieces. A replica of the Bénédicité was
commissioned by Count Tessin for the King of Sweden, and is now at the
Stockholm Museum.

The bad state of his health seriously interfered with his work during
the next few years, and his contributions to the Salon of 1741 were
restricted to "The Morning Toilet" and "M. Lenoir's Son building a Card
Castle," whilst he was an absentee from the following year's exhibition.

In 1743 Chardin lost his mother, with whom he had been living since his
wife's death, and who had been looking after his boy's early education.
Chardin, slow worker as he always was, and overwhelmed with commissions
for new pictures and replicas, which he continued to paint at starvation
rates, had no time to devote to the bringing up of his son, which was
perhaps one of the reasons which induced him to marry, in the year
following his mother's death, a musketeer's widow, of thirty-seven,
Françoise Marguerite Pouget, a worthy woman of no particular personal
charm, to judge from the portrait left by the master's chalks, but an
excellent housekeeper who managed to bring a certain degree of order
into her husband's affairs, and proved to be of no little assistance to
him in his business dealings. It was not exactly a love match, but there
is no reason for doubting that the two worthy people lived in complete
harmony and enjoyed a fair amount of comfort. The repeated references to
his "financial troubles" need not be taken in too literal a sense, since
from 1744, the year of his marriage, when he transferred his quarters to
his wife's house in the Rue Princesse, until 1774, when his affairs
really took a turn for the bad, he enjoyed the ownership of a house
which he was then able to sell for 18,000 livres, a by no means paltry
amount for these days. Moreover, in 1752, Lépicié's endeavours resulted
in the grant of a pension of 500 livres by the king, which, according to
the petitioner's own words, was sufficient to secure Chardin's comfort.
True enough, when the artist died in 1779, his widow applied for relief
on the pretext of being practically left without means of subsistence.
But an investigation of the case led to the discovery that she was in
enjoyment of an annual income of from 6000 to 8000 livres! A daughter,
who was born to the master by his second wife, died soon after having
seen the light of the world.

The year 1746 was apparently more productive than the five preceding
years; but henceforth the number of his subject pictures became more and
more restricted, and Chardin, perhaps discouraged by the public
grumbling at his lack of original invention, returned to the sphere of
his early successes--to still-life. Meanwhile his probity and
uprightness had gained him the highest esteem of his Academic colleagues
and brought him new honours in his official position. He was appointed
Treasurer of the Academy in 1755, and soon afterwards succeeded J. A.
Portail as "hanger" of the Salon exhibition, a difficult office which
needed a man of Chardin's tact, fairness, and honesty.

When Chardin took up his duties as Treasurer he found the finances of
the Academy in a deplorable condition. His predecessor J. B. Reydellet,
who had acted as "huissier and concierge," had neither been able to
exercise a restraining influence upon the rowdy tendencies of the
students, nor to keep even a semblance of order in the accounts. On his
death his legacy to the Academy was a deficit of close on 10,000 livres.
Chardin, assisted by his business-like wife, did his best to wipe off
the effects of his predecessor's negligence or incompetence, but the
task added very considerably to his worries, especially as, owing to
financial stress, the Academicians' pensions were frequently kept in
arrear, and for years Royal support was withheld. Matters reached a
climax in 1772, when the Academy found itself in such straits, that the
question of dissolving the institution had to be seriously considered.
Chardin's appeal to Marigny, and through him to the Abbé Terray,
Comptroller-General of Finances, however, led to the desired result, and
the much needed support was granted.

The quarters at the Louvre, vacated by the death of the king's engraver
and goldsmith Marteau in March 1757, were given to Chardin, who let his
house in the Rue Princesse to Joseph Vernet--another change which must
have contributed considerably to the ageing master's peace of mind. In
his wonted slow manner he continued to paint still-life, and received
several important commissions for the decoration of Royal and other
residences. Thus, in 1764, his friend Cochin procured for him, through
Marigny, a commission for some over-doors for the Château of Choisy.
They depicted the attributes of Science, Art, and Music, and were
exhibited in the Salon of 1765. A similar order for two over-doors in
the music-room of the Château of Bellevue--the instruments of civil and
of military music--followed in the next year. The payment for the five,
which was delayed until 1771, amounted to 5000 livres.

Chardin's last years were saddened by the tragic end of his son and by a
terribly painful illness. His duties as Treasurer became too much for
him, and he resigned this office to the sculptor Coustou in 1774. There
was a small deficit which he volunteered to make good, but this offer
was declined, and a banquet was given to him by his colleagues as an
expression of their appreciation of his services. The acute suffering
caused by his illness did not prevent him from continuing his artistic
work, and we find him at the very end of his career branching out in an
entirely new direction. The pastel portraits of his closing years betray
no decline in keenness of vision and in power of expression. Indeed,
they must be counted among his finest achievements. He worked to the
very last, and sent some pastel heads to the Salon of 1779. On the 6th
of December of the same year he breathed his last. His remains were
buried at St. Germain-l'Auxerrois, in the parish of the Louvre. With him
died the art of the French eighteenth century. A kind fate had saved him
from the misfortune that fell to the share of his contemporaries
Fragonard and Greuze, who outlived him by many years, but who also
outlived the _ancien régime_ and died in poverty and neglect and misery.


    The plates are printed by BEMROSE & SONS, LTD., London and Derby
    The text at the BALLANTYNE PRESS, Edinburgh



FOOTNOTES:

[1] A signboard of the conventional type, but painted with all Chardin's
consummate mastery, is the one executed for the perfume distiller
Pinaud, which appeared at the Guildhall Exhibition in 1902, and at
Whitechapel in 1907.

[2] The candidates had to pass through a probationary stage before they
were definitely received by the Academy.



Transcriber's Notes:

Simple typographical errors were corrected.

Page 30: "Goncourt brothers'" was printed as "brothers' Goncourt".

Table of Contents added by Transcriber.





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