Neither his considerable number of mythological paintings, nor his many portraits, have eclipsed in interest Fantin-Latour's fabulous flower pieces. Occupying a contradictory position as modern productions deeply inflected by tradition, they seem to us the most fastidiously crafted of all paintings to have attracted the approval of the impressionists and their circle. Fantin-Latour was by no means an impressionist himself, and some of his fantasy pictures tend more towards symbolism; yet even at its most academic, his touch has the evanescence, the softness, we associate with someone like Manet. Indeed, Manet was his friend and intellectual collaborator. One of Fantin-Latour's most famous canvases records a gathering of artists in Manet's Batignolles studio. The still life reproduced here is the embodiment of elegance. The flowers, freshly picked and perfectly formed, have been set with easeful order in their vase. The opened fruit and table utensils suggest a breakfast piece. Ordinary enough as individual items, as an ensemble their arrangement alludes to ritual.
AGNSW Handbook, 1999.
oil on canvas
71.8 x 58.4 cm stretcher; 88.5 x 76.0 x 7.0 cm frame
Signature & date
Signed and dated u.l., black oil "Fantin. 1866".
Shown in 2 exhibitions
An exhibition of French art at the National Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 04 Oct 1944–31 Oct 1944
Favourites: Margaret Olley and Jeffrey Smart (2002), S.H. Ervin Gallery, The Rocks, 12 Jan 2002–24 Feb 2002
James Fenton, pre 16 Feb 1903, Preston/Lancashire/England, Dutton Manor, Longridge. Sold at Christie's London, 16 February 1903, lot no. 4
Mansini, post 16 Feb 1903, Purchased at Christie's London, 16 February 1903, lot no. 4, £246.15
Sarah Jane Hodges, pre 1923, Purchased by the AGNSW from Sarah Hodges 1923. Purchased through S. Penton, Sydney.
Referenced in 6 publications
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of New South Wales picturebook, Sydney, 1972, 30 (colour illus.).
Bruce James, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Western Collection: Paintings and Sculpture', pg. 17-77, Sydney, 1999, 39 (colour illus.).
Margaret Olley and Jeffrey Smart, Favourites: Margaret Olley and Jeffrey Smart selections, Sydney, 2002. NOTE: No catalogue numbers; Margaret Olley selection.
Ross Steele, Art and Australia, 'French Impressions', pg. 87-93, Sydney, Spring 1984, 87, 88, 89 (colour illus.).
Sydney Ure Smith and Leon Gellert (Editors), Art in Australia [series 3, no. 8], Sydney, Jun 1924, 17.
An exhibition of French art at the National Art Gallery of N.S.W, Sydney, 1944. cat. no. 78