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The Cover
March 3, 2004

Still Life With Fish, Vegetables, Gougères, Pots, and Cruets on a Table

JAMA. 2004;291(9):1037. doi:10.1001/jama.291.9.1037

While most 18th-century French painters were in the drawing rooms of Paris painting fancy rococo ceilings for the aristocracy, Jean-Siméon Chardin (1699-1779) was in the kitchen trying to capture the likeness of a turnip. That he more often than not succeeded is proved again and again in his oeuvre of some thousand paintings. But to hear Chardin, one has to pay attention. He is never loud, never ostentatious. He whispers the shapes and colors of the humble objects he depicts. His light caresses. He has no desire to dazzle. His eye, his brush, himself, are always in the service of what he is observing. Except that he painted them, we might not see these pots and pans and vegetables of a country kitchen.