Work The Ray
Department of Paintings: French painting
© 2010 Musée du Louvre / Angèle Dequier
This early masterpiece by Chardin was immediately judged worthy of the finest Flemish examples (Snyders, Fyt). In The Ray, “this strange monster”, Proust admired “the beauty of its vast and delicate structure, tinted with red blood, blue nerves and white muscles, like the nave of a polychromatic cathedral”.
A “false” still life
Placed in contrast to the cauldron and pitcher — inert accessories at the right — to the left appears the tense and strange figure of a kitten, fur raised, seemingly frightened by a scene taking place outside of the painting. The skinned ray, evocative of Rembrandt’s Slaughtered Ox, with the odd assortment of objects arranged around it, was a source of astonishment to all painters — even as far as Matisse — for the riveting power of the animal’s vacant and ghostly gaze. The realism of the different elements of this false still life has forever served as a model to artists.
A reception piece
Chardin’s reception piece to the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture in 1728, The Ray, with its companion piece The Buffet, marks the beginning of the artist’s professional career. The painting remained in the collections of the Academy, before entering, during the French Revolution in 1793, the Muséum Central des Arts, which would later become the Louvre.
Jean-Siméon CHARDIN (Paris, 1699 - Paris, 1779)
Vers 1725 - 1726
H. : 1,14 m. ; L. : 1,46 m.
Collection de l'Académie
The painters of Louis XV
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