Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Jean Siméon Chardin - Still life with bottle, glass and loaf

In today's fast world you can easily overlook the subtle beauty and balance of a Chardin. You need to slow yourself down to properly appreciate one of his paintings.

What Chardin strove for was an overall effect: a unity of tone, colour and form. His still lifes reveal themselves slowly, with his objects gradually emerging from their subtly toned background, summoned as the writer Marcel Proust puts it, “out of the everlasting darkness in which they have been interred.”

Chardin would prime his canvases with a brownish pigment, sometimes tinted with red or green. This would give him a neutral background to paint on. On this he would brush in the darkest tones, then the mid-tones, and finally the highlights. When he arrived at the correct tonal balance, he would add colour, being careful to maintain the overall harmony. He would finally complete the work by going over it again with the colours he had already used in order to create the reflections and highlights that tune and unify the composition. In the example above, the same white that is used for the cloves of garlic is echoed in the reflections from the glass on one side and in the burnished highlights of the copper coffee pot on the other. The range of browns across the picture are united by a subtle hint of the green of the garlic leaves.

taken from

great guardian article

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