Trilogy of Soap Bubbles

In Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin’s eulogy, he was remembered for having once said, “One makes use of pigments, but one paints with one’s feelings.” And feelings he presents in his Trilogy of Soap Bubbles… three paintings of playful boys and shiny, shimmering, iridescent soap spheres… and a game, suggesting the transience of life. https://www.artsy.net/artwork/jean-simeon-chardin-soap-bubbles-1

The Metropolitan Museum of New York experts, where my favourite Chardin painting of Soap Bubbles reside, inform us that… The idle play of children was a favorite theme of Chardin, a naturalist among painters. Apparently, the experts continue, he drew inspiration from the seventeenth-century Dutch genre tradition for both the format and the subject, but it is not clear if the artist’s intention was for his painting, understood then to allude to the transience of life, carried such a message. https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/435888

Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin was the son of a modest cabinetmaker and the student of equally modest artists. Born and raised in Paris, the artist rarely left the city, drawing inspiration from Parisian genre scenes and arrangements of typically French objects and food. He lived on the Left Bank near Saint-Sulpice until 1757, when Louis XV granted him a studio and living quarters in the Louvre. He started his career by painting signposts for tradesmen and details in other artists’ works but in 1728, the Portraitist Nicolas de Largillière “discovered” him at an outdoor show, and Chardin was immediately admitted for membership in the Académie Royale.https://www.getty.edu/art/collection/person/103JYN and https://www.jean-baptiste-simeon-chardin.org/biography.html

Chardin was a frequent participant at the Parisian Salon, a dedicated academician, and, later in life, a pensioner of the French King. He was much admired by Denis Diderot, who would prove to be a great champion of his work. All of his paintings exhibited in the Parisian Salons were outstandingly successful.  By 1770 Chardin was the ‘Premiere peintre du roi’, and his pension of 1,400 livres was the highest in the Academy. I am not surprised… even his simple, unassuming Still Lifes are treated with dignity and respect. So much so, that the novelist Marcel Proust wrote… We have learned from Chardin that a pear is as living as a woman, that an ordinary piece of pottery is as beautiful as a precious stone! https://www.getty.edu/art/collection/person/103JYN and https://www.jean-baptiste-simeon-chardin.org/biography.html

According to the dealer and collector Jean Pierre Mariette, writing some fifteen years after the fact, Chardin’s first figural picture, the MET experts inform us, showed a head of a young man blowing bubbles and was studied from a model. Between 1733 and 1739 Chardin painted three paintings, titled Soap Bubbles. It is also known, that in 1739 a version of Soap Bubbles was exhibited at the Paris Salon. The question is… which version? The answer is probably none of the three that have survived, in the Metropolitan Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the National Gallery of Art in Washington. They are definitely similar but not identical, none of them is dated, two of them are horizontals, and one, at the National Gallery, is vertical. https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/435888

Jean-Baptiste Siméon Chardin’s Trilogy of Soap Bubbles is popular and well-liked! The viewers are absorbed by the depiction of a boy poised on a stone windowsill blowing a big soap bubble and the younger boy next to him, fully absorbed in the activity. Although Chardin gives the illusion of capturing two youths in a candid moment, he has rigorously constructed his composition. Was his intention to present the viewer with an allegorical scene? Does it matter what the artist’s intention was? Are Chardin’s paintings of Soap Bubbles the perfect example of Rococo Art? My answer… I do not know… all I want is to feast my eyes and enjoy a moment of playfulness, and innocence… https://www.nga.gov/collection/art-object-page.994.html

For a PowerPoint on Chardin’s Soap Bubbles, please… Check HERE!

A wonderful Video for Children, prepared by the National Gallery of Art, on Chardin’s Soap Bubbles… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kaxg6MjjM6g

Hand With Seaweed and Shells by Émile Gallé

Émile Gallé, French Artist, 1846–1904
Hand With Seaweed and Shells, 1904, Glass modeled under heat with inclusions of metallic oxides, veins, applications in low and high relief and wheel engraving, 33.4 x  13.4 cm, Musée d’Orsay
https://www.musee-orsay.fr/en/exhibitions/hand-seaweed-and-shells-emile-galles-artistic-testament-196300 and https://gr.pinterest.com/pin/51791464437097192/

Charles Baudelaire wrote… Homme libre, toujours tu chériras la mer! / La mer est ton miroir; tu contemples ton âme / Dans le déroulement infini de sa lame, / Et ton esprit n’est pas un gouffre moins amer.     /     Tu te plais à plonger au sein de ton image; / Tu l’embrasses des yeux et des bras, et ton Coeur / Se distrait quelquefois de sa propre rumeur / Au bruit de cette plainte indomptable et sauvage.     /     Vous êtes tous les deux ténébreux et discrets: / Homme, nul n’a sondé le fond de tes abîmes; / Ô mer, nul ne connaît tes richesses intimes, / Tant vous êtes jaloux de garder vos secrets!     /     Et cependant voilà des siècles innombrables / Que vous vous combattez sans pitié ni remords, / Tellement vous aimez le carnage et la mort, / Ô lutteurs éternels, ô frères implacables! Could the amazing Hand With Seaweed and Shells by Émile Gallé in the Musée d’Orsay celebrates the symbolic role of the sea as well? https://fleursdumal.org/poem/113

The French designer Émile Gallé, a pioneer glassmaker of the late 19th, and early 20th centuries was a leading creator of the Art Nouveau style. According to the POLA Museum of Art experts, Art Nouveau is characterized by curvilinear lines inspired by natural organic forms. Gallé was at the forefront of glass art in this style. He produced a succession of outstanding artworks incorporating his knowledge of the natural sciences, particularly botany and biology, and his outstanding technical expertise. The art production by Gallé, with their plant, insect, animal, and sea creature motifs, can be compared to the act of collecting nature. https://www.polamuseum.or.jp/en/exhibition/20180317s01/

Back in 2004, Musée d’Orsay organized an exhibition titled La Main aux algues et aux coquillages. Le testament artistique d’Emile Gallé to celebrate the centenary of Émile Gallé‘s death (1846-1904). As the title indicates the Exhibition was centered on the artist’s ultimate masterpiece, generously donated to the museum by his descendants in 1990, Hand With Seaweed and Shells. https://archivesdunord.com/5291–p-galle-le-testament-artistique-p-.html

Hand With Seaweed and Shells is the last work of crafted glass produced by the master from Nancy and represents the culmination of his technical mastery. It was exhibited at the Decorative Art Exhibition in Nancy in October 1904, a month after the artist’s death. This exceptional glass sculpture has been hot when modeled, metal oxides were used, and the engraving has been made in relief at the base. The artist used the marbling technique and glass applications in low and high relief. Finally, the engraving was done with the help of a wheel. https://www.wikiwand.com/fr/La_Main_aux_algues_et_aux_coquillages and https://artsandculture.google.com/asset/hand-with-seaweed-and-shells-emile-gall%C3%A9/3QH1q7j-jzvqaw

Émile Gallé, French Artist, 1846–1904
Hand With Seaweed and Shells (Details), 1904, Glass modeled under heat with inclusions of metallic oxides, veins, applications in low and high relief and wheel engraving, 33.4 x  13.4 cm, Musée d’Orsay https://www.panoramadelart.com/main-galle and https://art.rmngp.fr/fr/library/artworks/emile-galle_la-main-aux-algues-et-aux-coquillages_inclusion_grave-a-la-roue-verre_cristal-matiere_application-a-chaud_1904

According to the Musée d’Orsay experts, Hand With Seaweed and Shells is a strangely and ambiguously connoted work questioning if the artist’s work depicts a Hand coming out of the water or if it shows a Hand slowly sinking into it. Does it symbolize life or death? Is it an allusion to Aphrodite being born from the foam in the Ionian sea, or to Ophelia floating along the current? Is this Hand, despite appearances – fineness of the fingertips, shells looking like rings – really a woman’s hand, or is it the artist’s own hand? Whatever the answers are, this is exceptional… a work of art inspired by the world of the sea. https://www.musee-orsay.fr/en/exhibitions/hand-seaweed-and-shells-emile-galles-artistic-testament-196300

For a PowerPoint on Émile Gallé and the World of the Sea, please… Check HERE!