One off: Jean-Siméon Chardin


Portrait of Madame Chardin, 1775 by Jean-Siméon Chardin

“Chardin’s genre paintings, like Vermeer’s before him, go much further than that. By a technical feat which virtually defies analysis — though one writer has remarked helpfully on Chardin’s characteristic choice of “a natural pause in the action which, we feel, will recommence a moment later” — they come close to translating literal duration, the actual passage of time as one stands before the canvas, into a purely pictorial effect: as if the very stability and unchangingness of the painted image are perceived by the beholder not as material properties that could not be otherwise, but as manifestations of an absorptive state — the image’s absorption in itself, so to speak —that only happens to subsist.”

Michael Fried “The Primacy of Absorption” in Absorption and Theatricality: Painting and Beholder in the Age of Diderot.

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