Still a Still Life

• Jean-Siméon Chardin, Silver Goblet, Grapes, an Apple, 1728
Grape Harvest Bracelet by Elisabeth
Fleur-de-lis Necklace by Plum Posey
Grape Pearls Earrings by Christine
French Scroll Pendant by Joanna and Julia

A silver goblet absorbs the warm, golden hues of an apple and bunch of grapes. No narrative; no drama; just the fruit and silverware in one tight-knit moment. There are no epic battles or intense gazes, but the skill with which Chardin depicts an arrangement of ordinary objects makes his work timeless. Unlike other painters who infused drama into still lifes to make them look more exciting, Chardin gives quiet excitement to simple things. They exist out of time and context. The balance between softness and attention to detail is perhaps unparalleled in still life painting. The slight dent in the silver, the dots of light on the grapes, and the smooth surface of the goblet next to a fuzzy peach are enough to satisfy for centuries.

• Jean-Siméon Chardin, Pewter Pot with Plate of Peaches, Prune, and Nut, 1728
Silk Handwoven Scarf by Jeanette
Three Tiny Rosebuds by Jenny
Silver Peach by Peter
Topaz Ring by Graham

The pewter pot absorbs flickers of the flaming-red and cream colored peaches. The light here is more diffuse, as though it is coming from the peaches themselves. Even the rough texture of walnuts becomes soft and silky in Chardin’s work. Someone has left the lid open on the pot and crumbs on the ledge. These are the forgotten and quiet moments that Chardin captures meticulously.