Archive for art histry

Behind the Paint – The Governess by Chardin

Posted in ART, ART HISTORY, BEHIND THE PAINT with tags , , , on August 3, 2010 by echostains


Sellf portrait Chardin


When we look at paintings from the past we look at the subject of the painting – any meaningful clues or messages it may contain.  We also look at the technique of the artist, and also perhaps the symbolism or language of the painting.  Historically, this was easily understood by the artist and his audience.  Space and light are other considerations as the artist endeavours to convey that feeling of space onto a flat surface.  This requires skill on the artist’s behalf.

Style is reflected in each historical period, and this is executed  by each famous artist of the past in the arts.  Whilst it is helpful to have knowledge of the history and the symbolism of the painting and the time it was painted, everyone shall have their own personal interpretation.  A paintings success shall much depend on whether the painting  connects with the viewer.

Chardin, La Gouvernante (Governess) 1738


A member of the Academy in 1728, Parisian born Jean Baptiste Simeon Chardin (1699-1779) gained a fine reputation as an artist and by the time of the Salon of 1740, his fame was secured when two works entered by him, were bought by the french monarchy.  Chardin had a perfect sense of colour which always harmonises with his subject (realistic still life).  The artist lived a long and varied life, dying at aged 80 years.  A detailed biography can be found here.

In Chardin’s painting ‘The Governess’, the little boy stands by a half-opened door (to his future), he looks hesitant.  He has two books tucked under his arm and is leaving his governess behind because the time has come for him to go off to school.

The House of Cards circa 1737 another painting where Chardin uses cards


He is leaving his childhood toys behind.  The cards on the floor have been carefully arranged by the artist.  The King of hearts represent love and the Ace of spades – death.  There is a sense of fate which is also symbolised by the open door.  the governess brushes the child’s tricorn hat before sending the boy on his journey into the world.  the open workbasket indicates industry and the red of the upright chair back suggests firmness.

Self portrait from here Lots of Chardin images here The Governess image from here

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