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Still Life with a Hare

c. 1730
Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin, French, 1699 - 1779

One of a series of hunt-themed still life paintings that Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin produced in the 1730s, this picture reinvents the genre by suffusing the scene with a quiet, mournful tenderness. Though shown alongside a horn powder flask and a hunting bag, Chardin’s hare is not so much a hunting trophy as a locus for the viewer’s sympathy. Suspended by a foot, the hare’s sinewy leg appears almost human. Tactile layers of paint evoke dense fur, with dry, sweeping brushstrokes rendering the long hairs on the hare’s back, and thicker, more fluid brushstrokes conveying the velvety fur on its ears and scrunched face. As we contemplate this animal’s form, Chardin invites us to consider the materiality of its once vital body and the mysterious nature of the forces that had animated it.

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Object Details

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