Richard Green

Henri Fantin-Latour

(französisch, 1836 - 1904)

fécondité (fleurs et coupe de raisins) by henri fantin-latour

Henri Fantin-Latour

Fécondité (Fleurs et coupe de raisins), 1877

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Born in Grenoble in 1836 Henri Fantin-Latour was the son of the portrait painter, Théodore Fantin-Latour. The family moved to Paris in 1841 and at the age of 10 Fantin began to study painting with his father. In 1850 he entered the studio of Lecoq de Boisbaudran who was an innovative and highly revered teacher who was known for his system of training visual memory, in 1854 he enroled in the Ecole des Beaux Arts and he later also briefly studied under Gustave Courbet in 1861. During his studies Fantin developed an appreciation for the Italian masters, in particular Titian and Veronese, and spent much of his time copying works in the Louvre, which he sold mostly to American and English clients. Whilst painting in the Louvre in 1857 he met Edouard Manet with whom he forged a lasting friendship, and in 1858 he also met Whistler and his future wife, Victoria Dubourg.
In 1861 Fantin-Latour exhibited for the first time at the Paris Salon having been refused entry in 1859 along with his friends Manet and Whistler, he continued to contribute works to the Salon almost annually up until 1876 but also took part in the first Salon des Refusés in 1863.
Like his father Henri Fantin-Latour became a respected portrait painter and in the 1860s produced some of the most impressive and important works documenting his friendships with some of the most avant-garde artists, poets and musicians of the period. Painted in 1894 Homage to Delacroix (Musée d’Orsay, Paris) shows Fantin with Baudelaire, Manet, Whistler and others grouped around a portrait of Delacroix and A studio at Batignolles, 1870 (Musée d’Orsay, Paris) depicts a group of aritists including Fantin, Monet and Renoir watching Monet paint in his studio. Despite his association with the most forward thinking artists of the age Fantin-Latour remained, at heart, a traditionalist, he rarely painted outside preferring to remain in his studio where he produced his portraits, still lifes and romantice, imaginative scenes from the operas of Wagner, Schumann and Berlioz which were gave him most pleasure.
Fantin is, however, best known for his exquisite and elegant still life paintings of flowers. In 1859, Fantin-Latour was encouraged by Whistler to visit him in England where was introduced to the amateur artist Edwin Edwards and his wife, Ruth, who were to become a life-long friends and patrons. In England, encouraged by Edwards, he became particularly popular for flower paintings which were considered the height of fashion and were greatly admired for the restraint and elegance of their colour and composition. He visited England frequently and exhibited at the Royal Academy in London regularly between 1862 and 1900 which brought his work to even greater prominence.
Fantin’s delicate, graceful and luxurious flowers pieces are considered to be amongst the most impressive and sought after still life paintings of the 19th Century and his works can be found in some of the most important private and public collections throughout the world.


The Salon
Royal Academy