Still-Life with Dead Pheasant and Hunting Bag, 1760
Oil on canvas, 28.35 x 22.83 inches [72 x 58 cm]
Staatliche Museen, Berlin
This still-life - Still-Life with Dead Pheasant and Hunting Bag was painted by Chardin during his later years. In 1728 he was accepted as a painter of animals and fruit at the Paris Academy of Art without having to fulfil the usual requirements.
The structure of this painting - Still-Life with Dead Pheasant and Hunting Bag is simpler than in Chardin's earlier still-lifes, and Chardin has reduced the number of objects to a minimum. By singling out and thus monumentalizing the motif of the bird, Chardin gives it considerably more emphasis. According to the categories of feudal game law, the pheasant was seen as reserved for the nobility, but the hunting trophy which has been attached to the pheasant has, from a bourgeois point of view, lost its value of triumphantly demonstrating man's lordship over nature. However, the way in which the pheasant is rendered does not indicate in any way that colour is gradually becoming detached from the object. Rather, the careful, delicate application of the paint - even in the more roughened structures - heightens the element of sensitive empathy. Unlike the game still-lifes of his contemporaries - which have a smooth, cold objectiveness about them - the artist has created an atmosphere of intimacy between the viewer and the object.