the Ray , table of Jean Siméon Chardin, known as Jean-Baptiste Siméon Chardin, painted before 1728. H: 114,5cm, L: 146cm. Paris Museum of Louvre. It is, with the Grace and the hard Mother , one of the three only tables of Chardin exposed to Louvre since 1796. It is about one of the most famous tables of Chardin.
The table had been presented to the Exposure Youth of June 3rd, 1728, day of the Small Corpus Christi. Chardin presents it then, with the Dresser like Piece of reception to the royal Academy, on September 25th, 1728.
The table is divided vertically into two parts: the alive one on the left (cat, oysters) and the inanimate one on the right (jug, pot and other ustensils), the line making the transition between these two parts. The composition of the table is made overlapping pyramids. The line forms the first large pyramid, while the cat on the one hand, the ustensils on the other hand, form two small pyramids imbricated in the large one.
A vertical angle leaving appears on the wall, in contradiction with the foreground. The handle of the knife suspended at the edge of the table seems to leave the table. These details give one great depth to the composition.
The cat roughcast, the reflections on the ustensils, the line sanguinolente are as much of “flashes” which attract the eye and give rate/rhythm to the table.
As often in dead natures of Chardin, the subject is not essence, but the support of a pictorial research, a exercise of style on the light, the reflections and textures. Chardin practiced before the hour painting for painting, like a precursor of research of the end of the 19th century.
Nevertheless, some will see in this line “torture victim” a representation of the Crucifixion.
In 1763, Diderot considers that it is a masterpiece which all young painter must copy:
- “ After my child would have copied and recopied this piece speaks about olive '' the '' Bocal, who is also in Louvre, I would occupy it on the stripped Raie of the same Master. The object is disgusting, but it is the flesh even fish, it is its skin, it is its blood; the aspect even of the thing would not affect differently. Mr Pierre, look at this piece well, when you go to the Academy, and learn, if you can, the secrecy to save by the talent the dislike of certain natures.
One does not understand anything with this magic. They are thick layers of colors applied the ones to the others and of which the effect perspires of lower part in top. Other times, one would say that it is a vapor that one has puffed up on the fabric; elsewhere, a light scum that one threw there. Rubens, Berghem, Greuze, Loutherbourg would explain you this to do well better than me; all will make some feel the effect in your eyes. You, all approach are scrambled, are flattened and disappeared; you move away, all is recreated and reproduced.
One said to me that Greuze going up to the Living room and seeing the piece of Chardin which I have just described, looked at it and passed while pushing a deep sigh. This praise is shorter and is better than mine. ”
Most remarkable description that one can about it give is that of Marcel Proust:
- “ Maintenant come until the kitchen whose entry is severely kept by the tribe of the vases of any size, able and faithful servants, hard and beautiful race. On the table the active knives, which go right to the goal, rest in a threatening and inoffensive idleness. But above you a strange, fresh monster still like the sea where it ondoya, a line is suspended, of which the sight mixes with the desire with greediness the charm curious about calm or with the storms about the sea of which it was the formidable witness, making pass like a memory of the Botanical garden through a taste of restaurant. It is open and you can admire the beauty of its delicate and vast, tinted architecture red blood, blue nerves and white muscles, like the nave of a polychrome cathedral. At side, in the abandonment of their death, of fish are twisted in a stiff and despaired curve, flat belly, the left eyes. Then a cat, superimposing on this aquarium the obscure life of its more erudite and more conscious forms, the glare of its eyes posed on the line, makes operate with a slow haste the velvet of its legs on raised oysters and detects at the same time the prudence of its character, the covetousness of its palate and the temerity of its company. The eye which likes to play with the other directions and to reconstitute using some colors, more than a whole past, a whole future, feels already the freshness of the oysters which will wet the legs of the cat and one hears already, at the time when the precarious accumulation of this fragile mother-of-pearl will bend under the weight of the cat, the small cry of their crack and the thunder of their fall
Henri Matisse admired much Chardin: “Yes, I often go to Louvre. It is the work of Chardin which I study there more. I go to Louvre to study his technique” ( Écrits and Matter on art (Paris, 1972). In 1896, it carries out a copy of the Line which is with the Matisse museum of Cateau-Cambrésis. Boudin and Soutine will make them also pastiches of the Line .
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