Only sculptors received higher allowances. Bouchardon received 3,400 livres, Pigalle 2,350 livres. In the case of Pigalle, 1,600 livres were paid in the form of an indemnity for the loss of his studio in 1756 ( Michel, op. cit., p. 516).
See P. Rosenberg, Chardin exhibition catalogue, 1979, p. 400.
It was said that this increase was one of Cochin's last interventions before he lost his official post. However, in 1772, when he learnt that the king's Direction des Bâtiments still owed Chardin 8,830 livres, 2,800 of which were outstanding for the paintings commissioned for Choisy and Bellevue, Cochin wrote a note saying: 'I still feel a secret remorse for having acquired the five paintings mentioned above from M. Chardin at such a good price when I was in charge of purchases for the Arts; a man of his merits should have been treated more generously. Is there a way that the Director could see his way to making good my mistake? Perhaps he could grant M. Chardin a bonus, given the delay which he has tolerated and the nature of the terms under which he agrees to be paid' (quoted in the 1979 Chardin exhibition catalogue, p. 400). Cochin proposed increasing the sum from 8,830 to 10, 000 livres, and this was granted.
Letter of 28 June 1778 in which Chardin asked for a pension.
Plainte de M. Badigeon, 1771.
In 1773, he again exhibited heads in pastel, as well as a version of Woman Drawing Water from a Copper Cistern. In 1775, a further 'three studies of heads in pastel', including his Self-portrait with Eye-shade and his Portrait of Madame Chardin (T.O.P. 194 and 195; see pp. 8 and 229).
In January 1772 Cochin wrote to Descamps that Chardin 'sent him many compliments and is still cruelly incapacitated' ( C. Michel, "Lettres Adressées par Charles-Nicolas Cochin Fils à Jean Baptiste Descamps, 1759-90", Archives de l'Art Français, new per., vol. XXVIII, 1986).
P. Rosenberg, Chardin exhibition catalogue, 1979, p. 401.
Observations sur les ouvraged exposés au Salon du Louvre or Lettre de M. le comte de ...
The Salon of 1775 is written in the form of a dialogue between Diderot and the painter Jacques Philippe de Saint-Quentin, who represents the 'anti-Académie' trend.
The inventory after Chardin's death lists what appear to be six heads in pastel: 'a small study of a head, a beggar -- the little Jacquet, a replica -- the head of an old man -- portrait with spectacles, a replica -- two studies, a little boy and a little girl'. The last two of these were given a total value of 300 livres, while the little Jacquet and the old man were valued at 96 livres and the self-portrait at 72 livres.
La Prêtresse, 1777.
Letter quoted in full by P. Rosenberg, Chardin exhibition catalogue, 1979, p. 75. See also Michel, op. cit., 1993.
Could the fantasy portrait said to be of Bachelier in the Vassal de Saint-Hubert sale in fact represent a member of the family or one of the collector's relatives?
The payments for his work at Choisy and Bellevue, for example, were made by means of an allowance of 4 per cent on Aided et Gabelles (types of taxes).
Regarding this postscript and the vehemence of Madame Chardin, it must be said that she was very ill at the beginning of 1778, as witnessed by two letters from Cochin to Descamps (Michel, 1986, letters XXXIV and XXXV); it may be that she was worrying about her financial future, because of her husband's chronic ill-health.
This remark highlights once again the different treatment given to each genre, but it expresses politely what Pierre had planned to write to Chardin: 'Although your works prove the efforts which have won you a reputation in a genre, you must feel that we owe the same justice to your peers, and you must admit that for equal work your studies have never incurred such high costs or such considerable amounts of time as those of your colleagues who have painted in the higher genres. One might even be grateful to them for their unselfishness, because if the incomes expected by them were related to their efforts, the administration would not be in a position to satisfy them' (letters quoted in full by P. Rosenberg, 1979, pp. 404-5). Should we recall here Chardin's beginnings and Cochin's phrase about the study of the classics delaying study of the arts? This translates exactly into the 'considerable loss of time' incurred by history painters. This is why Chardin who was 'angry that he had not learnt Latin and its literature in his youth, for which he was only able to compensate with reading, never neglected to encourage his son to study the classics. He had hoped that his son might be able to acquire some distinction in his art'.
In December 1778, the Direction des Bâtiments owed Chardin four years of allowances in arrears, i.e., 5,600 livres, and in January of the following year we find a reference to the 3,800 livres owing to him for paintings (presumably those which he did for Choisy and Bellevue). These documents are in the Archives Nationales, series 01 and they are quoted by P. Rosenberg, 1979, p. 405.
Le Journal de Paris summarizes what most of the critics said about Chardin without excepting those who were particularly hard on him. It lists two or three who reported, despite everything, what the public still admired in him: in addition, an article drawn from a previous issue of the Journal said that 'this old man, an octogenarian, who like the old Entelle, always goes down and shows himself in the lists and who, not having let a single exhibition pass without showing his paintings, teaches the young their lessons, has given us this year several studies in pastel where we recognize the touch of sentiment which never dies.' In addition it quotes La Lunette: 'M. Chardin has distinguished himself again with his Heads of Old Men and above all with his Jacquet [it had been purchased by Madame Victoire de France]. One could say that painting caresses him and has done for thirty years'. Finally, Le Visivnnaire wrote: 'We saw several heads in pastel. At the sight of these works, the God of taste witnessed a living joy. It has been over forty years, he said, since I have seen this Artist's work here and it is always crowned by deserved success. Always a bold and learned colour, a deep knowledge of the harmony of a painting, a generous and easy manner and, a warmth of execution which is rare in youth. Look at this head of a young boy -- do you know any paintings where the colour is fresher or sparkles so?'
These two texts are reproduced by C. Michel, 1986 letters LVI and LIX.
Most of this inventory is reproduced by G. Wildenstein in Chardin, 1933, p. 144 ff.
In addition Saying Grace was valued at 48 livres, Soap Bubbles at half that, Game of Goose at 48 livres and Card Games at 30 livres; a Washerwoman, who is probably the woman at the copper cistern, was valued at 36 livres; Child with a Spinning Top, a replica of the portrait of the young Godefroy boy, and The Governess were valued at 24 livres each; and a Boy Grinding Colours and Two Children, life-size, were valued at 6 livres each. There were also some paintings by La Hyre, Silvestre and Jouvenet, engravings, a plaster horse by Pigalle and, also by Pigalle, a Mercury and a Child, as well as drawings by Cochin, one of which, an Allegory of the Death of the Dauphin, was valued at 120 livres, while the total sum of Chardin's possessions was valued at relatively low prices. The inventory also listed the furniture, the possessions, jewelry and silverware, as well as the contents of Chardin's wardrobe which comprised seven complete outfits including one made of velvet, and another decorated with silver braid, as well as a list of the documents relating to his annuities and pensions. In total, and excluding his painter's pension which has already been discussed, Chardin and his wife enjoyed an annual income of a little over 6,000 livres, which was very decent. A few months later, on 6 March 1780, when Madame Chardin put her husband's paintings up for sale, there remained only seven genre subjects in pendants: The Governess and The Diligent Mother; Card Games and the Game of Goose, 'two paintings of monkeys', and The Washerwoman.
C. Michel, 1986, letters LXIII and LXIV.


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Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 5
  • Preface 6
  • Part I - A Parisian Painter 9
  • Chapter One - Painter of Animals, Kitchen Utensils and Vegetables 11
  • Notes 34
  • Chapter Two - Becoming Famous 37
  • Notes 54
  • Chapter Three - The 1750s: a New Direction 57
  • Notes 73
  • Chapter Four - The 1760s: Official Commissions and a Select Clientele 75
  • Notes 91
  • Chapter Five - The Evening of a Beautiful Day 93
  • Notes 104
  • Part II - The Great Magician 106
  • Chapter One - The Painter and the Critics 109
  • Notes 127
  • Chapter Two - Colour, Brushwork and Feeling 129
  • Notes 143
  • Chapter Three - Still Llfe 145
  • Notes 187
  • Chapter Four - Portraits and Genre Scenes 189
  • Notes 233
  • Chapter Five - The Artist and Engravings 237
  • Notes 245
  • Chapter Six - Painting in Chardin's Time 247
  • Notes 262
  • Selected Texts 263
  • Catalogue of Engravings After Chardin 271
  • Bibliography 285
  • Index 289
  • Photographic Credits 293


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