Jean-Siméon Chardin's paintings of dead rabbits and hares are distinctive in the history of the game piece for their use of paint to create a tactile, material surrogate for fur. Emphasizing the haptic presence of the animal body, Chardin's vividly brushed pigments also enliven the furry surface as if to counteract the fact of the animal's death. Such attention to the body's materiality, including the subtle, emotional appeal of the vibrant fur, are compared with the radical materialist theories of Julien Offray de La Mettrie, who posited for animals and people alike a material soul inseparable from the body. While European paintings of dead animals had from their origins invoked concerns about the status of the soul in a mechanistic body, Chardin's fur suggests, as did the theories of La Mettrie, a sensitive, material "soul" for the animal--and perhaps, by extension, for the human as well.


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pp. 39-61
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