For the very first time, Waddesdon Manor brought together Chardin’s four versions of ‘Boy Building a House of Cards’ to form a small and compelling exhibition of the artist’s genre paintings. Tager Stonor Richardson were lucky enough to examine two paintings for the exhibition, which could then be compared with technical images of the other versions of the same subject, to help unravel the evolution of the artist’s revolutionary motif. These poetic, psychological works were painted between 1735 and 1737 and close examination of these versions reveal not only Chardin’s technical accomplishments but also underline his radical choice of subject matter and subtle symbolism.
In addition to the ‘Card player’ group, the show also included seven other genre compositions and eleven works on paper. The themes raised by these paintings were all fully explored in the excellent accompanying catalogue which also includes a great deal of technical information, including TSR’s infrared reflectograms.