Monday, November 2, 2009

Soap Bubbles

Jean Simeon Chardin (French, 1699–1779)
Soap Bubbles 1733-34?
oil on canvas
24 x 24 7/8 in.
Metropolitan Museum of Art

I've always loved this painting. I've discovered that there are multiple versions, with questions over which was executed first, so there is no definitive date on this work. I am pretty sure this is the one that I have seen, since I have yet to get myself to the National Gallery or the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (a pretty sad state in my experience of art museums I have to say).

Aside from the simple beauty of the style and technique, I also tend to love any theme of children (at least in 18th c. art). This was a favorite theme of Chardin ("idle play of children). The existence of 3 versions of this painting reminds me of an interesting inquiry I had at work recently. A patron called asking about a work they had seen in our museum. She had looked for an image of it online and believed she had found it. She called to ask a few questions about the work, one being that she wasn't sure why the image she was looking at online looked so different from what she remembered. It was because it wasn't the same sculpture of course, but she had trouble wrapping her mind around the fact that an artist would create more than one version of the same subject with the same title. She asked, "did they really do that?".

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