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Fantin-Latour's exquisite and frivolous fantasy paintings.

Fantin-Latour's exquisite and frivolous fantasy paintings.

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Henri Fantin-Latour (1836-1904) was a French painter who became known for his floral still lifes, portraits of iconic artists and musicians of the time, and exquisite nudes of nude beauties in the Symbolist style. He painted beautiful floral still lifes for the prim and austere English, and portraits and nudes for the gallant French. He was considered his own among the Impressionists, although he preferred to work in a realistic manner, especially when it came to his favorite images of flowers.

Poppies in a vase

His father was Frenchman Jean-Theodore Fantin-Latour, and his mother was a Russian woman, Elena Naidyonova, who lived in the city of Oryol. Jean-Theodore wrote portraits of rich townspeople and decided to settle in the city of all artists Paris, hoping to find customers there. When Henri grew up, his father noticed that he showed a certain talent for painting, and decided to teach him, hoping that he would follow in his footsteps. First, young Henri copied prints and lithographs, and thoroughly stuffed his hand at drawing, at the age of 15 years managed to enter the art school Lecoq de Buabodrana. There practiced a rather unconventional method of teaching: students had to go out into the street and from memory to draw everything that they saw there. For beginner impressionists it was the best thing, but the realists, who long cherished each picture, had a hard time.

Dedication of Delacroix

A Fantin-Latour, although he was friends with the Impressionists, very much respected the work of artists of the old school and daily, as artwork, went to the Louvre, copy paintings of the old masters. On the one hand, it was useful for his studies, and on the other - brought a good income, the good thing about these copies always found buyers. He even chose an apartment as close to the museum as possible, even though he had to pay more for it.

Portrait of Édouard Manet

For Fantin-Latour, the Louvre was much more than a museum. No wonder he met his future wife there. The artist and pianist Victoria Dubourg also could not imagine her life without the Louvre and creativity, so their marriage was in many ways a union of two like-minded people who shared common ideals.

The Three Divas of the Rhine

It was true that life was not going well for Fantin-Latour. His father fell ill, his mother died, his sister ended up in Sheraton - a hospital for the mentally ill and there was no suggestion that she would ever get out of there. And only 10 years after his first acquaintance with Victoria Dubourg, the shy Fantin-Latour finally decided to make an offer.

Rest in the park

Although Fantin-Latour painted in the style of realism and even studied under Courbet, he did not consider himself a realist, nor did he consider himself an impressionist. He dreamed more of "absolute painting" - a special style that is fundamentally different from down-to-earth realism and allows you to "soar to the heavens".


Therefore, for himself and for his soul, he wrote "imaginary subjects", as Fantin-Latour called them - images of beautiful nude women in the style of symbolism, united by some mythological plot and having a deep allegorical meaning in its basis. They were often blurred and indistinct, as if painted out of focus.


But it was in this manner of execution that many critics noticed a special charm: the paintings resembled a kind of exquisite fantasy, a revived play of imagination, which the artist transferred to the canvas, but only he alone can fully imagine and realize all his work.

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