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Jean- Baptiste Simeon Chardin-
Grace at Table (also called Benediction)
Robert Campin (the Master of Flemalle)
Merode Altarpiece c. 1425
|Form: Chardin's paintings differ from those of his Rococo contemporaries in many ways. Chardin's use of color is closer to the Renaissance painters than the Rococo. In these paintings he uses a low key earth toned palette. His compositions, like this one, often deal with interior scenes that are dimly lit. Still life elements are painted with the same consideration as the figures and his brushwork is more specific than the Rococo painters of his time.Iconography: This is a genre scene in the most Renaissance and traditional sense and returns in some ways to earlier genre scenes such as in Robert Campin's Merode Altarpiece c. 1425. The iconography is anti-Rococo because the scene deals not with a romantic encounter but with the moral instruction of two young women. The subject matter is a middle class orbourgeoisie family in which either a mother or a governess serve a simple meal. The children, knowing their place in in the world show they are grateful to God by saying grace before the meal. Surrounding them are the trappings of a moral bourgeoisexistence. The furniture, toys and clothing are simple but still of good quality.
Context: Chardin's output of quiet domestic scenes in Dutch manner, usually on a small scale but really wasn't ever in great favor with the aristocracy but at times he did enjoy some popularity with the aristocracy because some of the ideas fell into place with Rousseau's ideas of morality and social order in texts such as his Social Contract and Émile.
Émile in particular has bearing on this painting because it is a novel about the education of a little girl named Sophie. Rousseau believed that people were born fundamentally good and if allowed to pursue the natural inclinations this goodness would manifest itself.
Émile, was a rejection of the traditional ideal: education was not seen to be the imparting of all things to be known to the uncouth child; rather it was seen as the “drawing out” of what is already there, the fostering of what is native. Rousseau's educational proposal is highly artificial, the process is carefully timed and controlled, but with the end of allowing the free development of human potential.
Jean-Baptiste Siméon Chardin.
Soap Bubbles, c1733
oil on canvas, 36 5/8 x 29 3/8 in.
French Baroque but not really Rococo
Jan Vermeer. The Lacemaker 1669-70
Oil on canvas transferred to panel,
23.9 x 20.5 cm Musée du Louvre, Paris
|Form: This painting uses a low key earth toned palette. The composition of this image is shallow and somewhat symmetrical although not completely. The design forces the viewer to focus on the image of the young boy who is highlighted in a tennebristic manner. Still life elements are painted with the same consideration as the figures and his brushwork is more specific than the Rococo painters of his time.Iconography: It is possible that this may be an overinterpretation of the iconography of this image however most historians believe that this is a type of vanitas or memento mori: "The boy enjoys a pleasurable pursuit as time wastes away, and the soap bubble itself is a traditional symbol of the fragile, fleeting nature of human life." http://www.uic.edu/~pbhales/
According to the National Gallery:
"A boy concentrates his full attention on a quivering bubble, which seems ready to slip from his pipe. Eighteenth-century French viewers would have recognized the soap bubble from Dutch and Flemish painting as a symbol of life's fragility and the vanity of worldly pursuits." http://www.nga.gov/collection/Context: Interestingly enough, although most historians ascribe this new moralizing in Chardin's images to Rousseau's philosophies but similar the ideas are also evidenced in works such as Vermeer's The Lacemaker 1669-70. Compare and contrast these two paintings and come up with some conclusions as to how each image is meant to convey a similar message. Look at them both in terms of a formal, iconographic and contextual framework. How and why are they similar and or different.
Jean-Baptiste Greuze, 1725-1805 Broken Eggs 1756
French , New York: Metropolitan Museum
|Form: Although painted during the Rococo period this painting is not very Rococo in its form. This style of painting probably evolved somewhat from commedia and or some other types of performances because the composition of the picture plane is very shallow and stage like. This oil painting uses a low key earth toned palette.Iconography: Stokstad discusses the idea that Greuze's paintings are expressions of the new moralizing philosophies expressed by French philosophers such as Diderot, Voltaire and Rousseau.
Here is a young woman who has a basket of eggs that has been broken. The egg is a symbol of life and also of a woman's womb and or virginity. In this case the metaphor is that she has lost her virtue.
The young woman's grandmother or mother stands behind her pointing the accusing finger while her brother looks on in a state of bewilderment. The young boy is a rather Rousseau's interpretation of a young child's reactions. Children will always try to do the right thing and here, the girl's younger brother vainly attempts to put the eggs back together and restore her to her former state.
Context: This image relates very clearly to the plot of various novels and poems of the period such as Moll Flanders in which when a woman loses here virtue she has started down the wrong path and it will lead to her demise. The same ideas are expressed in the prints of William Hogarth in particular his prints entitledBefore and After c1736.
bour.geois adj [MF, fr. OF borjois, fr. borc] (ca. 1565) 1: of, relating to, or characteristic of the townsman or of the social middle class 2: marked by a concern for material interests and respectability and a tendency toward mediocrity 3: dominated by commercial and industrial interests: capitalistic -- bour.geois.ifi.ca.tion n --
bour.geois.ify vb ²bourgeois n, pl bourgeois (ca. 1674) 1 a: burgher b: a middle-class person 2: a person with social behavior and political views held to be influenced by private-property interest: capitalist 3 pl: bourgeoisie
bour.geoi.sie n [F, fr. bourgeois] (1707) 1: middle class 2: a social order dominated by bourgeois
genre n [F, fr. MF, kind, gender--more at gender] (1770) 1: a category of artistic, musical, or literary composition characterized by a particular style, form, or content 2: kind, sort 3:painting that depicts scenes or events from everyday life usually realistically
petite bourgeoisie n [F, lit., small bourgeoisie] (1916): the lower middle class including esp. small shopkeepers and artisans