Friday 2 November 2012


Here's a picture to celebrate the birthday (in 1699) of the great French painter Chardin. This one - one of several versions of The Young Schoolmistress - is in the National Gallery, as is one I wrote about earlier. The Young Schoolmistress is painted with exquisite brushwork and typical mastery of the effects of light on surfaces, and it has that quality of absorbing stillness that characterises all of Chardin's best work. It is touching without being sentimental, and gains new poignancy when you reflect that the artist lost two daughters in infancy. He must have loved children, I think, to be able to paint them so well. 'Who said one paints with colors?' he once remarked. 'One employs colours, but one paints with feeling.'

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