- Henri Fantin-Latour
- Signed Fantin (upper left)
- Oil on canvas
Gustave Tempelaere, Paris
Albert Pra (sold: Galerie Charpentier, Paris, June 17, 1938, lot 39)
M. Knoedler & Co., New York (acquired at the above sale)
Mrs. Minnie Astor Fosburgh, New York (sister of Betsey Cushing Whitney)
Mr. and Mrs. John Hay Whitney (acquired from the above in August 1979)
Fantin-Latour began his career as a portrait artist and was highly regarded for his attention to detail and ability to convey the personality of the sitter in a realistic manner. Following an excursion to England in 1861, Fantin began to move away from portraiture, instead focusing on still-life paintings. His approached this genre with the same intensity as portraiture, and the still-life soon began to make up the largest portion of his artistic output.
According to Edward Lucie-Smith, Fantin was capable of seeing each flower as if it were a human face. He writes, " His belief, academic in origin, that techinique in painting was separable from the subject to which the artist applied it, enabled him to see the blooms he painted not as botanical specimens, but as things which, though not necessarily significant in themselves, would generate significant art upon the canvas. At the same time, the naturalist bias of the milieu in which he had been brought up encouraged him to try and give a completely objective description of all the nuances of colour and form which he saw in the bouquet he had arranged” (Edward Lucie-Smith, Henri Fantin-Latour, New York, 1977, pp. 22-23).
The richness of the blooms, projected against the austere, nearly monochromatic background in the present work, are the hallmarks of a quintessential Fantin composition. The artist’s unique sensitivity to the subject, depicting every feathery petal, each green stem, and the translucent, glass vase with the utmost care, as well as the subtle lighting of the composition give Nature morte avec roses a noble and seductive beauty.