Jean-Siméon Chardin’s food still lifes from the 1750s and 1760s diverge from his earlier kitchen displays by exhibiting mainly ready-to-eat fruit, baked goods, and beverages, without any suggestion of additional cooking. The emergence of this subgenre in the artist’s oeuvre corresponded to the rise of a new ethos of eating in mid-1700s France, which championed simply prepared food as the alimentary corrective to the corrupting influence of over-refined modern cookery. This moral discourse on Chardin’s subject matter ran parallel to the critical acclaim for the distinct visuality of his art as an antidote to the excess of rococo style. In light of the mid-century discourse on art and food, Chardin’s late still lifes embodied the reformist aesthetic advocated by the French intellectual elite.
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