A kitchen maid returns home from the market, her arms full of victuals and the birthright of every French citizen, loaves of warm crusty bread! Here is a pristine moment in the daily activities of a household, captured beautifully on the finest Minton porcelain. The maid rests against a sideboard before starting to cook the meal. She glances back over her shoulder toward the other maidservants or perhaps out the window that provides the painting's soft natural light. This is a simple work but it is a fine example of “genre” painting—scenes of everyday life. There is no momentous occasion here, no event of historical significance. Indeed the charm lies in its momentary glimpse of ordinary life. Jean Baptiste-Simeon Chardin specialized in such humble paintings of everyday occurrences and honest depictions of life in France. He was born in Paris in 1699, the son of a cabinetmaker, and in 1757 he was given a studio at the Louvre by Louis XV. There is something homey and down to earth about his paintings. This Minton plaque was executed in 1963 by L.J. Woodhouse, copying the original painting “Return from the Market” by Chardin (1739), now in Schloss Charlottenburg, Berlin. The plaque is in perfect condition with no damage and no repairs. The frame size is nine and three-quarters by eleven and three-quarters inches. I’d like to quote Kenneth Clark about Chardin: “. . . the greatest painter of mid-eighteenth-century France. No one has ever had surer taste in colour and design. Every area, every interval, every tone, gives one the feeling of perfect rightness. . . . In addition to loving the people [of the working class], he loved the pots and barrels. They have the basic nobility of design of something that has had to serve a human need unchanged for many centuries.”
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