Back From the Market is a famous painting by Chardin. Three versions of this subject exist: the one reproduced here, now in the Louvre, is probably the picture shown at the Salon of 1739, the other two, in Berlin and Ottawa, date from 1738. It is the most famous of Chardin's genre paintings and depicts a woman just back from the market, where she has been buying food. As is always the case in the French artist's work, the painting composition is perfectly studied, with the sequence of doors left half-open or ajar that alternatively immerse the details in shadow or inundate them with light. The handling of the paint, as the critics have pointed out, with the brushstrokes laid on side by side, gives the picture the appearance of gros point embroidery. Speaking of this work, Malraux pointed out that Chardin, far from being a minor master of the 18th century dependent on the still life painting of the Flemish baroque and susceptible to the decorative taste of his time, was in reality, like Corot, a graceful and imperious simplifier. In effect Chardin set out to represent the colors and forms of reality, but without getting bogged down in detailed description: it is for this reason that the modernity of his painting aroused such admiration in Cezanne and the Cubist painters.
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