Jean Siméon Chardin (1699-1779) was arguably the most talented French painter of the eighteenth century, best known for his original still lifes. Composed of simple, everyday objects, these works glow with warmth and magic, from the dull iron of the kitchen pans, to the glaze of the green earthenware jug or the shining copper of the cauldron. There is no superfluous detail or search for decorative effect; the beauty of his paintings lies in their minimalism. His, contemporary, the philosopher Diderot, looking at The Olive Jar, excaimed: 'All you have to do is take these biscuits and eat them... pick up the glass of wine and drink it... O Chardin! It's not red, white or black pigment that you crush on your palette; it's the very substance of the objects.' Following the succes of his early still lifes, and inspired by Dutch seventeenth-century artists. Chardin went on to paint some exquisite genre scenes and portraits, remarkable for their realism and honesty as well as for their skillful technique. His works had a tremendous influence on subsequent artists, inspiring painters as diverse as Manet and Cézanne. This beautifully illustrated introduction to the artists provided by Gabriel Naughton, a director of the fine art dealers Agnew's, and head of the department of Old Master Drawings.