Chardin: La Bénédicité
Rousseau on Le Bénédicité:
Chardin has managed here to depart from the corrupted milieu of deceit and artifice we saw with Boucher's Marquise de Pompadour. There is simplicity and sincerity in this everyday scene. The mother, attending to her duties and the two little girls are examples of virtue.
The interior is modest and the family is probably not very wealthy, yet we can see genuine delight and peace of mind in the three figures. There are a few toys around the girl on the left, perhaps Chardin's attempt to show the little pleasures of a humble and virtuous life. The little hands of the girl joining in a sign of prayer, the loving gaze of the mother in her direction, the absence of the father, probably still working hard to provide for his family, or the smoke rising from the dish on the table, everything in the painting is comforting, honest, and true.
We are indeed, far away from the luxury and the profusion of Madame de Pompadour with her contrived and deceptive air of satisfaction.