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Chardin

The Royal Academy of Arts

9 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0300083483 / ISBN 13: 9780300083484
Published by The Royal Academy of Arts / The Metropolitan Museum of Art, London / N., 2000
Condition: Very Good Hardcover
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Bibliographic Details

Title: Chardin

Publisher: The Royal Academy of Arts / The Metropolitan Museum of Art, London / N.

Publication Date: 2000

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:Very Good

Dust Jacket Condition: Very Good

About this title

Synopsis:

Widely acknowledged in his time as a premier painter of still life and genre scenes, Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin (1699–1779) created unsentimentalized works that appeal to viewers today for their richness of feeling and simplicity of composition. This sumptuously illustrated book reproduces in full color 99 of Chardin’s works and arranges them around five themes: Chardin’s Beginnings and His First Still Lifes, Utensils and Household Objects, Genre Scenes, Chardin’s Return to Still Life, and Pastels.

The contributors to the volume explore Chardin’s work from many different angles, including the latest thinking on such lesser-known facets of his life and work as his use of ceramics and glass, his financial and property affairs, and the complex history of engravings of his paintings. Each of the five sections of the book has an introduction and a selection of Chardin’s paintings accompanied on facing pages by complete provenance, exhibition, and bibliographic information. The book also offers an extensive Chardin biography, an index of names and places, and an index of works.

Review:

Pierre Rosenberg, the Chardin scholar and President-Director of the Musée du Louvre, had one overriding goal in mind when assembling the exhibition of which Chardin is the catalog: "to present the artist's finest paintings, the most perfect, the most harmonious, the paintings that leave nothing to be desired." The 99 paintings reproduced in this book are a testimony to the success of that endeavor. There are also six essays by Chardin experts and an extensively researched chronology.

Chardin's still lifes and genre scenes have been deeply appreciated for centuries for what Rosenberg calls "the grave, silent quality that encourages the onlooker to silent reverie." He is incapable of untruth: his subjects--jugs and bowls, glasses, cherries, housemaids, boys at play, dogs and cats--are painted without a touch of irony, embellishment, or drama.

It is painful to report that this volume is extremely disappointing visually, with plates that are either poorly reproduced or reproduced from poor transparencies and are slightly greenish or washed out. Except for details, which do show Chardin's close harmonies and painterly touch, the pictures look flat and dull. Art historians, of course, will see the paintings in the flesh and use this book as only an aide-memoire, but for ordinary, nonprofessional art lovers, the 20-year-old catalog of the great 1979 Chardin exhibition gives a far better sense of the quiet perfection of this subtle artist. Even a pocket book from Abrams' Discoveries series, Chardin: An Intimate Art, by Helene Prigent and Pierre Rosenberg, is far superior. Although its reproductions are minuscule by comparison, they are at least clear and clean, with colors that appear to be close to those of the original works. The little book may be only an hors d'oeuvre, but it has all the flavor that is missing in the full-course meal. --Peggy Moorman

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