Van Gogh •
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Jean-Baptiste Simeon Chardin was born in Paris.
He was the son of a carpenter, and the environment of craftsmen and humble
middle-class people into which he was born did much to determine his life and art. Similarly, his study of seventeenth-century Flemish and Dutch genre paintings was far more important to his artistic development than the academic training he received from Pierre Jacques Cazes, Nicolas Coypel, and Jean Baptiste Vanloo. After having attracted attention at an exhibition Chardin became a member of the Royal Academy in 1728. Thereafter his work received the appreciation it deserved and the favor of the king, who granted him an apartment in the Louvre and a pension.
From 1734 until 1751, Chardin painted scenes of middle-class life to which he brought a special comprehension, and in which children
play an important role. He then devoted himself principally to still life and finally, between 1771 and 1775, he drew portraits in
pastel that are among the finest of their kind. Chardin was first of all a craftsman, but he was enough a man of his time to have absorbed the subtle tonality and delicate texture of French painting of the era. His subject matter was taken from the Dutch masters but his approach to it was original, personal, and extremely French, as we may judge from its delight in simple yet useful domestic objects, in the basic materials for the pleasures of the palate, and in the satisfaction that derives from performing ordinary tasks in a happy, intimate atmosphere.
As Louis Le Nain had done a century earlier, Chardin portrayed the life of simple French people. As much as we may admire his gently poetic, completely satisfying, and quiet portrayal of people and their surroundings, Chardin's influence in his own time was limited to a few imitators and followers. In the nineteenth century, however, his influence increased when artists such as Manet and Cezanne began to study his techniques for rendering textures, his composition, and his color.