“Self-portrait in pince-nez”, Jean Baptiste Simeon Chardin – description of the painting

Description of the picture:

Self-portrait in pince-nez – Jean Baptiste Simeon Chardin. Around 1771. 46 x 38 cm
In 1771, the audience of the Salon was perplexed – the elderly Charden for the first time cheated on himself. He not only presented several portraits in the traditional understanding of the genre not in the form of his favorite “genre scenes”, but also made them in a completely unexpected technique – pastel. Many considered this an eccentricity of an old master, but the reason was very clear – at the end of his own life, Charden was tormented by an eye disease. Lead, which was part of alkyd paint, caused eye irritation, and therefore the painter took up the pastel.

One of the best works of the last period of the work of the realist Jean Baptiste Chardin is considered “Self-portrait in pince-nez (glasses).”

The expressive and slightly ironic look of a middle-aged wise man is the main thing that is in this work. Through the ages, the painter looks at the viewer, as if he says: life did not spoil me very much, but it did not break me. What are you capable of? For their indefatigable will to live, to creativity, contemporaries nicknamed the masters “tireless old man”, and we can easily agree with this.

In portraits, Charden sought to avoid mannerism, empty preening – he wanted to see, first, a man. Working on a self-portrait, he remained true to this principle. A tired face with wrinkles, but a bright blush and strong-willed chin, a delicate color neck scarf, a simple dressing gown and an unusual headdress resembling a turban tied with a blue ribbon – this is a night cap. Serious look gives a miniature pince-nez. The picture was painted in a calm soft color with a predominance of brown, pink, bluish.

Some “read” the artist here as a kind-hearted grandfather, however, it is not so simple – the sincerity, lyricism of the image are combined here with wisdom, tolerance and calmness. So he was in life according to contemporaries. So he wanted to stay in the portrait. After 8 years, Charden will end his life."

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