(b. 1699, Paris, d. 1779, Paris)
The Prayer before Meal (detail)before 1740
Oil on canvas
Musée du Louvre, Paris
How Chardin paints is far more important than what he paints. Yet his achievement lies in the extraordinary fusion of technique and subject-matter. His people are indeed still-lifes: inexpressive in features, serious and as compact as some man-made object. Child and chair become one in Le Benedicité. Conveyed through the medium of Chardin's paint, what might otherwise be a dangerously 'soft' theme takes on wonderful toughness, rigorousness, and sobriety.