The Cover Section Editor: M. Therese Southgate,
MD, Senior Contributing Editor.
While the rest of Paris was going rococo after the death of Louis XIV,
Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin (1699-1779) chose to stay close to the
hearth. Instead of the flamboyant gods and goddesses being installed on the
walls and ceilings of the aristocracy's Paris apartments, he painted the simple
and the self-evident in scenes he saw about him every day: mothers and children,
pantries and kitchens, copper pots, teapots, jugs, oysters, onions, eggs and
herring, cats, flowers, wine coolers, and other generally unnoticed things.
In contrast to Fragonard and Boucher's pirouettes, Chardin became a painter
of not only the commonplace but of the common people. He changed prose into
poetry and made the evident visible. He was a genre painter born out of time
and place: a 20th-century Rockwell crossed with a 17th-century Vermeer, living
in 18th-century France.
Southgate MT. Self-portrait With a Visor. JAMA. 2000;283(2):167. doi:10.1001/jama.283.2.167