Taking Time: Chardin

Waddesdon Manor

28 March – 15 July 2012

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A concise and concentrated selection of genre scenes and servant paintings by the master of the still life, Jean-Siméon Chardin, brought together for the first time.

Jean-Simeon Chardin, Boy with a House of Cards, 1735 (part of the Rothschild Collection)

Chardin was held in high esteem by his contemporaries in 18th century France, including the eminent salon critic Denis Diderot. Rejecting the florid excesses and mythological subjects which typified the art of his time, Chardin instead captured moments of quiet concentration and absorption in simple, everyday activities. His works have a static, reflective quality which gained him the nickname 'the painter of silence' in his own lifetime, but also attracted the admiration of many artists of later eras, including Cézanne and Matisse.That these works are to be shown at Waddesdon Manor is not insignificant, as the Rothschild family, who had the property built, have also been some of the most important collectors of Chardin's work, and recently acquired one of his paintings for their private collection.

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This exhibition brings together eleven paintings and the same number of works on paper. At the core of the works on show are four paintings of young bourgeois boys playing with packs of cards. This was a favourite subject of Chardin's, and one that he returned to time and time again, perpetually finding new variations on the same theme. Accompanying these works are other images of servants engaged in their work which distill the modesty and dignity of the people they depict.

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