He specialized in still life portraits of individuals that depicted domestic scenes, thus adding a touch of realism and emotion to art. He also painted abstract objects. In his later years, the artist added some pastels to his collection of paintings. The paintings done by Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin stood out due to the luminous quality of paint that he used when painting them, the emotion-packed scenes he chose and the tranquil atmosphere that is evident in his object paintings.
Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin was born in November 1699 in Rue de Seine part of the city of Paris. He spent his early years working with his father who worked as a carpenter in his workshop. His experience at the workshop greatly influenced his career later. His pieces of artwork clearly showed great attention to detail and an awesome creativity that symbolised out of the box thinking.
At his youthful age, Chardin developed keen interest in art and joined the art studio of one of the most renowned artists in Paris during the 1690s. From there, he linked up with Pierre-Jacques Cazes who introduced him to the basics of commercial artwork and academic drawing. Later on, he joined another art studio that belonged to Noël-Nicolas Coypel who was well versed in recording historical events through artwork. History painting fascinated the young painter, which made it easy for him to learn extensively from his trainer.
It is when apprenticing at Noël-Nicolas Coypel's studio that an assignment from Coypel came through. The studio owner requested the painter to depict the real life form of a musket into a painting that looked like the real thing. The assignment involved the production of a portrait that could be added to the collection of the master's hunting paintings' collection. Chardin picked up the assignment and delivered results that surpassed expectations. This led to him discovering his talent for meticulous observation and perfect replication that would be his signature during his painting career. In 1724, he joined Académie de Saint-Luc for formal training as a painter. During his early studies there, he developed a number of genre art pieces and one signature signboard that received commission for display at a Parisian surgeon's clinic.
In 1728, the still-life painting works done by Chardin got the attention of Nicolas de Largillière who noticed the artist's attention to small details. Largillière then recommended Chardin to join the Royal Academy of Painting (Académie Royale de Peinture) to receive further training. By the end of his first year at Académie Royale de Peinture, Chardin had earned himself the reputation of "the painter of animals and fruit" due to his expertise in painting real life objects. His art was said to bring to life objects in the paintings with their different textures and simple forms. In 1731, Chardin married his longtime lover, Marguerite Saintard, to whom he had been engaged to since 1723. Good tidings followed soon after their union with Chardin receiving his first official commission from the French ambassador to Spain in the same year. The artwork that made the commission possible was titled "Attributes of the Arts and Attributes of the Sciences". It included a pair of decorative panels.
Formal Art Career
The new found passion at the Académie Royale de Peinture as an academician enabled the painter to expand his scope of artwork as well as sharpen his skill of bringing to life abstract objects on the canvas. During his academician years, Chardin painted one art piece that was titled The Buffet, which perfectly depicted real life French tradition. His continued stay at the academy enabled him to build a name for himself. As a result, he received patronage and commendation from King Louis, which came with a full pension. In 1735, however, Chardin went through a rough patch that saw him lose his wife. The following year his young daughter would also pass away leaving him without a family of his own. This caused him strife and distress, and he became ill going into the 1740s.
Chardin continued developing his career despite his loses. During the time, art was gaining popularity across Europe with Dutch painting being liked by many art collectors. Chardin cultivated his specialty by focusing more on painting still-lifes, genre paintings, and domestic interiors. Although Chardin's works gained popularity in many regions of Europe, he himself was not much of a traveller and preferred to stay in Paris for most of his life. In 1744, he found love again and married a woman by the name Françoise-Marguerite Pouget. The couple had a daughter but tragedy struck his family again and his daughter died during her early years.
The painter went back to producing still-lifes and going into the 1750s, he stopped producing new pieces and took a laid-back life. Instead of creating new art, he choose to reproduce some of his earlier works that had gained popularity with small changes. He also took a more secretive approach to life with not much of his personal life being known to the public. His second production of still-lifes focused more on kitchenware and utensils that he had been known for in his earlier years. The new paintings, however, had more diversity and featured more expensive pieces, including glassware, porcelain sculptures, and vessels that were common among the rich folk. In the late 1770s, Chardin submitted three paintings for display that were out of his usual scope of real life objects. This time, he had produced pastels. Surprisingly, one of the pastels was his own portrait painting. Reports about the painter having trouble with his eyesight reached the public in 1770. In fact, it was said that the eye problems were behind his shift from real life paintings to pastels.
Late Art Career and Death
In 1772, Chardin suffered yet again from the loss of his only remaining child. This was quite a huge blow to the painter who had taken great pride in his child who was also an aspiring painter. Further, changes in the leadership at the Académie led to a deterioration of his favour with the new leadership. Chardin's artwork also lost popularity due to the shift to neoclassicism as the officially preferred method of classifying art. This caused his paintings, which were mostly modest, to be associated with the poor. In fact, his name was almost forgotten in art circles by the time he was passing away in 1779.