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Jean Baptiste Simeon

Chardin (1)



still life painting - chardin

from CHARLES NICOLAS COCHIN , 'Essai sur la vie de M. Chardin' 1780

"Jean Simeon Chardin painter famous in his genre, was the son of a cabinet-maker who had distinguished himself with his talent For making billiard tables; he was in charge of those which were made for the King. This talent was passed on through the generations of his family and his younger son, who is still practising as a cabinet-maker today, continued it with similar success. J.-S. Chardin was the eldest child; his father, who had many children, wanted him to join him in his profession, but he was loath to do so. He felt a spirit driving him towards greater talents. His father accepted his inclination for painting and apprenticed him to Pierre Jacques Cazes, a history painter, then one of the most skilled painters. Since M. Chardin the Elder, who had a large family, could not have hoped to leave his children an adequate inheritance, as it would have to be split up between them, he tried only to give them enough skills to enable them to earn a living. This is why he did not concern himself with making them learn the classics, which would have taken up a part of their youth, without actually leading them to the goal which he had in mind for them. M. Chardin often regretted that he had not had the help of a First-rate education, which seems to be more and more necessary, although it is true that it delays the study of the arts. He studied painting and history at M. Cazes's studio and he achieved oniy very ordinary success there. M. Cazes's studio was not suitable for training pupils, as one never painted from nature. Pupils copied the paintings of the master and drew at the Academic iii the evenings. M. Cazes never had sufficient funds to pay models. He painted his finest pictures purely from pracflee, using a small number of studies which he had made in his youth and figures which he had drawn at the Academie. He drew accurately, in a style which was superior in many ways, yet which was rather too mannered. There is reason to believe that this fault can be attributed to the system in force during his century and his routine, which was always the same, to this unfortunate saving which he had to make to economize on the costs which using a model would have incurred.
At this time, the art of painting, without support or protectors, was slow and difficult work. With the exception of Le Moines, M. de Troy and some portrait painters, all of the rest lived in a mediocre way, close to poverty. "


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