French realist painter.
Chardin was born in Paris and at the age of nineteen, having
shown an aptitude and enthusiasm for painting, he was sent to train under Pierre Jacques Cazes, who later became director of the Academy. After two years Chardin moved into the studio
to be trained by Noël-Nicolas Coypel, the half-brother of the more famous Antoine Coypel, a
doyen of the Academy as a history painter.
Chardin’s first known work was a shop sign, probably in the style of Watteau and executed between 1722 and 1726. Other works were still-lifes inspired and strongly influenced by the
Dutch and Flemish 17th century. At this time he became friendly with the painter Aved who had grown up
in Holland and came to Paris is 1722, bringing with him a number of Dutch
pictures including Rembrandts.
Chardin was made a Master Painter of the Academy of St Luke. In 1728 Chardin exhibited The Skate (Musée
du Louvre) and this was admired by a number of academicians who encouraged him
to apply for membership of the Academy. He hung this work along with The Sideboard (Musée du Louvre) at the
Academy. The success of these works enabled him to become a member of the
Academy (on 25 September of this year); an unusual accomplishment as still-lifes were considered the lowest
form of art, history painting being far more recognised and accepted at that
Throughout the remainder of his
life Chardin was the loyalist of academicians and he exhibited consistently at
the Salons. Chardin was promoted Councillor of the Academy on 28 September 1743, then made Treasurer on 22 March 1755. After him
becoming an academician the artist turned to painting genre scenes in which
figures provide the main pictorial interest. He continued this form of painting throughout the 1730s and 1740s. His domestic figure works proved far more
popular and reached a wide public though engravings. But in the 1750s he turned to still-life and
in 1771 illness and old age forced him to give up painting in oils. The final years were among his most fruitful
and he turned to portraiture (including a number of self portraits in pastel). These were some of the finest portraits of
the century. In 1775 he gave up work
altogether and died four years later, on 6 December.
Despite his long career, he only produced approximatively 200 paintings, including many replicates of his own works.
He was the master to his son Pierre-Jean.
- Philip Conisbee, Chardin, Oxford, Phaidon Press Ltd, 1985.
- Pierre Roseberg & Renaud Temperini, Chardin, Suivi du catalogue des oeuvres, Paris, Flammarion, 1999.