Jean Baptiste-Siméon Chardin was born in the Paris artists' quarter of Saint-Germain-des-Prés on November 2, 1699. As the oldest son of a master carpenter, who produced billiard tables for the king, Jean Baptiste-Siméon Chardin was obviously expected to take over the father's business and was therefore trained as a carpenter. Soon, however, it turned out, that his talent as a painter surmounted his skills as a craftsman. His father therefore sent Jean Baptiste-Siméon Chardin to Pierre-Jacques Craze's studio when he was 19 years old. He continued his education as an artist under Noël-Nicolas Coypel, who aroused his interest in still life. In spite of these apprentice years, Jean Baptiste-Siméon Chardin remained largely an autodidact.
In 1724 Jean Baptiste-Siméon Chardin became a master of the "Sint Lucas Gilde", in the same year he also met Marguerite Saintard. Due to his uncertain financial situation, their planned wedding, however, could not take place straight away. Jean Baptiste-Siméon Chardin's situation only improved a little when he was admitted to the Académie Royale in September 1728, after some unsuccessful exhibitions. He could then get married in 1731.
Until 1735 Chardin worked in Fontainebleau for Jean-Baptiste Loo, where he contributed to the restoration of paintings and produced several genre scenes. In 1735, however, the happiness he was experiencing with his wife and two children, ended abruptly, when Marguerite died. After his wife's death Chardin's style changed, he turned to figure painting and his pieces became very popular.
After 1740 Chardin not only worked for bourgeois clients, he also received more and more commissions from aristocratic circles. Chardin's financial situation improved considerably when he married the childless widow Marguerite Pouget. At the same time he established himself at court, in 1743 he became a Conseiller of the academy and later their treasurer. In 1755 Chardin finally became a fully respected court painter. Soon, however, Jean Baptiste-Siméon Chardin fell ill. Gallstones and diminishing eyesight complicated his work. From 1770 his position at court diminished and the interest in his work ceased. Due to his physical ailments he turned almost exclusively to pastel drawing.
In 1779 Jean Baptiste-Siméon Chardin died in Paris.