Almost 200 years ago, William Hunter (1718-1783), founder of the Hunterian Museum, Glasgow, was one of a small number of British art collectors to acquire works by his contemporary Jean-Simeon Chardin. Among these, Woman taking Tea of 1735 has become something of an iconic image of French art from this period. It has a pair in a near contemporary painting Madame Boucher (1743) by François Boucher in the Frick Collection, New York.
Accompanying an exhibition at the Wallace Collection, this catalogue will seek to examine relationships between these two works and their creation, focusing on establishing common threads drawn from contemporary French social and cultural history. When seen together, the two paintings acquire a new resonance, showing the imaginative and Parisian response of two very different painters to a new interest in scenes from everyday life. The paintings are examined in the context of a dozen further works by the artists, and prints, drawings, books and decorative art objects including oriental textiles and porcelain. This provides an opportunity to address undercurrent social history themes, such as the artists\' attitudes to fashion, interior decoration, and even the consumption of tea - a pastime borne from the contemporary fashion in eighteenth-century France and Great Britain for anything oriental, influenced by new trade links with China.
Anne Dulau is curator at the Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery, University ofGlasgow
Dr Christoph Vogtherr is curator of pictures pre-1800 at the Wallace Collection, London
Dr Ann Eatwell is curator in the Silver Department of the Victoria & Albert Museum, London.