Soap Bubbles

Artist: Jean Siméon Chardin (French, Paris 1699–1779 Paris)

Date: ca. 1733–34

Medium: Oil on canvas

Dimensions: 24 x 24 7/8 in. (61 x 63.2 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Wentworth Fund, 1949

Accession Number: 49.24


The idle play of children was a favorite theme of Chardin who was a great naturalist among painters. In this canvas of about 1734 he drew inspiration from the seventeenth-century Dutch genre tradition, for both the format and the subject. While it is not certain that he intended the picture to carry a message, soap bubbles were then understood to allude to the transience of life. Other later versions of this picture belong to the Los Angeles County Museum and to the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.