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The Cover
January 12, 2000

Self-portrait With a Visor

Author Affiliations

The Cover Section Editor: M. Therese Southgate, MD, Senior Contributing Editor.

JAMA. 2000;283(2):167. doi:10.1001/jama.283.2.167

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.