A servant deposits her purchases, attention divided between her task and the conversation in the room beyond. Chardin was celebrated for his paintings of domestic life among the Parisian bourgeoisie, treating these subjects with a remarkable seriousness, sensitively observing contemporary manners and dress. He favoured intimate, still moments such as this, asking us to engage deeply with the scene. Connoisseurs prized his acute sensitivity to the materials and techniques of painting – savouring the very paint itself, rich and thickly applied. While indebted to 17th-century Dutch art, Chardin’s approach is his own.