Chardin and Proust, on the Beauty of the Everday

Still Life with Plums, 1730

Rather I should say: Me, on Chardin and Proust, on the beauty of everyday things like jugs, water, and fruit in an article up on Escape Into Life magazine.  Being able to see the beauty in the commonplace is surely a quality to be valued.  Chardin’s still life above looks nothing like my messy kitchen table–but then perhaps it does more than I can appreciate.

I’d love to hear what you think about the article.  This train of thought spun off my enjoyment of De Botain’s How Proust Can Change Your Life, an enjoyable book I shared earlier this month here and also worth a look.

4 thoughts on “Chardin and Proust, on the Beauty of the Everday

  1. It’s a great article that bring up some great points, ideas, BUT
    “that a poor man could look at humble images and be taught to see the beauty in his ordinary, unappreciated life once an artist has drawn attention to its aesthetic qualities? ”

    to be honest, having faced poverty myself, the first thing that would come to mind is how nice it is for someone to have time to sit and paint food, or have the money to buy the supplies. I couldn’t afford to buy grapes, let alone wine in a fancy goblet. I ADORE the painting, and I love seeing the mundane elevated to such beauty, but I think there is a level of romantisicm and patronizing when it is assumed a poor man needs to be taught to see the beauty in the ordinary. It is those who take these ordinary things for granted that need help appreciating them, not the poor man who can’t afford them or the time to ponder such things.
    Still I enjoyed the article.
    Just my humble thoughts.

  2. I’m glad you check out it out, JafaBrit! I see what you mean, and I don’t think I explained with enough background in the article.

    Proust wrote about a middle-class, bourgeois young man in his example. He didn’t lack necessities but the ability to appreciate them and went to the Louvre to look at paintings of palaces and balls and came home dissatisfied. Chardin was used as a contrast. So the poor man in the example I was drawing from was not that hard up, except in comparison to the princes in the grand paintings, and was unappreciative.

  3. Doing some catching up here, at last. I enjoyed the article and really embrace some of the excellent points you make. When you write that “our ability to appreciate life can be mediated by art”, I can honestly say that intense contemplation of painting and poetry has helped me become more aware of, sensitive to and engaged with all my senses in the simple beauties around us (the sunbeam on the glass). Truly they help us concentrate on the rich possibilities of the present moment. I guess many people come to the knowledge more directly without the mediation of art, but this is definitely the circuitous path that has worked for me.

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