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Saying Grace

© 2010 Musée du Louvre / Angèle Dequier

French painting

Pomarède Vincent

The theme of the prayer before meals, treated by the Dutch masters of the 17th century, is reinterpreted in this tender and understated scene, one of the most famous works by Chardin. The rough painting of his early career gives way here, for the first time, to a smoother and more polished execution.

The contented life of duty

Here we see the striking difference between Chardin and painters like Boucher. Chardin stresses deserving and hidden virtues, the contented life of duty, and clean and well-fitting humble dresses - not the coquetry of marquises, garden luncheons, and moonlit promenades.
A circle of figures look at one another and the shape is repeated in the tablecloth and the dishes, part of the circle of tenderness that is work's chief subject. The theme is an old one: a mother teaches her children to recite a prayer before the meal.

Immediate success

A work of simple composition and refined execution, treating a subject of deliberate banality, Grace was an immediate success. The moralization of the subject, exaltation of a simple family life, and palpable intimacy explain the philosopher Diderot's great enthusiasm for Chardin's genre scenes.

The Louis XV Collection

Exhibited at the Salon of 1740, this genre scene was purchased by Louis XV and remained in the royal collections until the French Revolution; it then entered the Muséum Central des Arts, which would later become the Louvre, in 1793. A replica of this work, with slight differences, was part of the Dominique Vivant-Denon Collection before being bequeathed to the Louvre in 1869 by Dr. Louis La Caze.

Technical description

  • Jean-Siméon CHARDIN (Paris, 1699 - Paris, 1779)

    Saying Grace

    Salon of 1740

  • H. 49 cm; W. 38 cm

  • Pendant to The Diligent Mother

    INV. 3202

  • Paintings

    Sully wing
    2nd floor
    18th-century genre painting
    Room 921

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