The Attentive Nurse
The Attentive Nurse is an oil painting by Jean-Baptiste-Siméon-Chardin. It measures 46.2 x 37 cm (18 3/16 x 14 9/16 in.). It was painted in 1747. It hangs in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.
The National Gallery tells us that Chardin reveals dignity and beauty in everyday life. The woman is preparing an invalid's meal. Each object receives careful treatment from the artist. The table setting is a harmony of white tones: jug, tablecloth, egg, and plate. Every pot, each piece of crockery has been given distinct treatment. As Diderot wrote of Chardin, "it is not white, red, or black pigment that you mix on your palette, it is the very substance of objects."
Chardin's subjects were popular with all classes of society, including the aristocracy. The National Gallery writes, "Perhaps their appeal rested in their sense of order, of things in their proper place. Chardin anticipated the popularity of paintings of "sensibility," which increased from the 1740s on, telling a colleague that "one uses color, but one paints with sentiment."