The Easel

Pots, pans and pondering in Chardin’s domestic scenes

One of the year’s more elegant essays. At a time when history painting was the zenith of artistic ambition, Chardin chose humble domesticity. His painting is distinguished by “a capacity to render the everyday charismatic”. In some works exquisite still life objects are put together with distracted humans, showing “both depth and surface … a conjuring of concentration out of emptiness.”