This information is ©
The Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery, University of Glasgow 2016
" A Lady Taking Tea" 1735
CRE CHARDIN, Jean-Simeon; (French;1699-1779)
oil on canvas
81.0 x 99.0
105.0 x 125.0
Original French Louis XV carved and gilded ogee section pastel frame.
Signed and dated, b.r.: "J.B.Chardin 1735"
From the founder, Dr. Hunter's collection. When Hunter acquired this painting, he is unlikely to have been aware of its exceptional place within the artist's career. Today Lady taking Tea is considered one of Chardin's greatest achievements. Its simplicity, composition and subtle balance of few colour accents embody the painter's very personal contribution to French genre painting. Chardin painted this work shortly before the death of his first wife, Marguerite Saintard. Images of women drinking a solitary cup of tea are rare in contemporary paintings, for it was often perceived as a social activity. This suggests Marguerite must have inspired Chardin's subject matter, perhaps because she used to seek comfort in the warm drink, believed to have medicinal properties.
The painting is one of only three large genre scenes (the others being the Woman Sealing a Letter, 1733 and The Philosopher, 1734). Perhaps more than any other Chardin, this work exemplifies what Diderot found so compelling: '[Chardin's compositions] have a colouristic vigour, an overall harmony, a liveliness and truth, beautiful massing, a handling so magical as to induce despair, and an energy in their disposition and arrangement that is incredible. Back away, move in close, the illusion is the same, there's no confusion, no artificiality, no distracting flickering effects; the eye is always diverted, because calm and serenity are everywhere.'
Hunter, who shared with Queen Charlotte the gift of tea bushes from Dr Fothergill in 1769, would have enjoyed the reference to tea drinking.
Bequeathed by Dr William Hunter, 1783
FIGURE : FEMALE : MORTALITY : INTERIOR : DRINKING : STILL-LIFE : SAINTARD, MARGUERITE : PORTRAIT : FRENCH : TEA : HUNTER 2007 : ON DISPLAY :