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The splendid Chardin
by Karen Wilkin
On Chardin at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
was right!Support The
Every time I walked through the splendid Chardin exhibition at the Metropolitan  this summer, I was struck by how impossible it was to imagine how this eighteenth-century masters paintings looked to his contemporaries. Not that theres a lack of documentation. Quite the contrary. The work of Jean-Siméon Chardin (16991779) was thoroughly discussed by the art critics of his day, most famously by Denis Diderot, his friend and perhaps his most illuminating commentatorcertainly the best writer among them. The critical literature that survives from Chardins lifetime, provoked by his submissions to the Salons from 1737 until 1779 and his widely disseminated prints, contains everything from adulatory poems and over-the-top rhapsodies to clear-eyed descriptions of particular still lifes of musical instruments, baskets of fruit, a ...
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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 19 September 2000, on page 40
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