National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION

Tour: 18th-Century France — Chardin and Portraiture

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image of Soap Bubbles image of Still Life with Game image of The Attentive Nurse
1 2 3
image of The House of Cards image of Madame Bergeret image of Portrait of a Young Man and His Tutor
4 5 6
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The Academy

The Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture was established in 1648 to centralize control over the arts, and in eighteenth-century France it dominated artistic life. Only members could receive royal commissions or participate in the official Salons, the Academy's influential exhibitions.

Full membership required the Academy's acceptance of an artist's "masterpiece." Painters were received as specialists in a particular type of painting. In the strict hierarchy promoted by the Academy, "history painting," which included religious, mythological, and historical subjects, was the most highly esteemed. Next came portraiture, then landscape and still life. This ranking suggested that some types of painting required an artist to use his mind as well as his eyes.



1Jean Siméon Chardin, Soap Bubbles, probably 1733/1734
2Jean Siméon Chardin, Still Life with Game, probably 1750s
3Jean Siméon Chardin, The Attentive Nurse, 1747
4Jean Siméon Chardin, The House of Cards, probably 1737
5François Boucher, Madame Bergeret, possibly 1766
6Nicolas de Largillierre, Portrait of a Young Man and His Tutor, 1685
7Jean-Marc Nattier, Joseph Bonnier de la Mosson, 1745
8Nicolas de Largillierre, Elizabeth Throckmorton, Canoness of the Order of the Dames Augustines Anglaises, 1729
9Jean-Marc Nattier, Madame Le Fèvre de Caumartin as Hebe, 1753
10Jean-Baptiste Greuze, Ange Laurent de La Live de Jully, probably 1759
11Jean-Antoine Houdon, Voltaire, 1778