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Self-Portrait Chardin aux besicles

Jean-Simeon Chardin
Self-Portrait: Portrait de Chardin aux bésicles
Louvre, Département des Arts graphiques

Photo : Courtesy Réunion des Musées Nationaux

Art in Brief : Chardin

By Andrew Jack

PARIS, 16 November 1999 - On the 300th anniversary of his birth, the Grand Palais is hosting an important retrospective on Jean-Simeon Chardin (1699 - 1779). Less exciting or contemporary than the themes and style of Daumier (also on view at the Grand Palais), it is Chardin who is no doubt even more important in the history of art.

Chardin, a member of the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture in Paris, worked within the artistic constraints of his time, producing essentially still life compositions. There are some notable exceptions, including a wonderful humouristic self-portrait of himself, almost as though in drag, which closes the exhibition.

For this visitor, there are nonetheless limits to the interest of a variety of still life paintings. What is interesting - and could have been provided in greater quantity - is the reaction of some of his well and less-known contemporaries, commenting on his technique and his role in eighteenth century society.

Andrew Jack is the Moscow correspondent for the Financial Times and a member of the editorial board of He is the author of a new book entitled, "The French Exception" (London: Profile Book).

Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais
Until 22 November 1999

Organised by the Réunion des Musées Nationaux, Paris, and sponsored by LVMH / Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, Chardin will travel to Düsseldorf from 5 December 1999 to 28 February 2000, the Royal Academy of Arts in London from 9 March to 28 May 2000 and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York from 19 June to 17 September 2000.

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