French painter J. B. S. Chardin and Italian artist Francesco Hayez were masters in – rococo - which in painting means a sense of space, preference for light and shade, and attention to detail
Two paintings of youngsters engaged in their happy pursuits -- one blowing soap bubbles in a colourful Venetian setting and the other stealing, slyly seated in a window, a look at the slain food animals scattered in a French middle class kitchen -- draw the admiring looks of visitors to the Salar Jung Museum.
The two pictures, attractive they are by their delightful light and shade fine finish are important for another reason: few painters – talented ones at that – treated children in their canvases as good as the authors of the two canvases on show in the museum did.
French painter J. B. S. Chardin and Italian artist Francesco Hayez, the authors of the two engaging pictures, were working, though separated by period and provenance, in the same art style – rococo - which in painting means a sense of space, preference for light and shade, and attention to detail.
J.B.S. Chardin is a well-known name in French painting. He was born in 1699. His father was a carpenter. He had no regular art education.
He had some training from a modest art teacher P. J. Cozes. In the beginning he painted signboards for merchants. Next, he started filling details in others’ pictures.
His scenes of the common people gained public approval. He did charming portraits of boys and girls. Majority of his works are in Louvre Museum, Paris. He died, full of honours and success, in 1779.
Chardin’s ‘Still Life’ (here, Dead game), a huge oil canvas, reveals a middle class French kitchen crowded with pots and pans, bowls and plates, hunting tools, killed game – all being joyously looked over by a boy -- who is also inviting by his looks our participation into the scene.
A fine light sails over the surface of the objects rendering the loaded interiors lighter.
Broad brush strokes, smooth planes help in settling our eyes comfortably on the whole surface.
‘Soap Bubbles’, the creation of Italian Francesco Hayez, a sweet canvas, represents a boy blowing soap bubbles which, floating in the air, are aglow with rainbow colours.
The boy’s colourful costume, his outsize hat, his gay dress and play of light and shade at the bottom canvas contribute to the playfulness of the picture.
Francesco Hayez who popularised rococo painting in Italy was born in Venice in 1791 and died in 1882.
He painted historical themes and portraits. He was also fond of painting romantic subjects. Melancholy colours and masterly use of light and shade mark his canvases. A master of simple, pure colours.
Hayez was acclaimed as a Manet of Italy (Manet, a French painter of 19th century, was one of the originators of Impressionism).
Dep. Keeper (Retd)
Salar Jung Museum