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    Description

    Henri Fantin-Latour (French, 1836-1904)
    Fleurs: camomille et dahlias, 1871
    Oil on canvas
    22 x 17-1/8 inches (56 x 43.5 cm)
    Signed and dated upper right: Fantin 71

    Property from the Estate of a Prominent New York Collector

    PROVENANCE:
    Edwin Edwards, London;
    Obach & Co., London;
    F. & J. Tempelaere, Paris;
    J.P. Schneider Jr., Frankfurt, Germany;
    Private collection, Switzerland, 1989;
    Acquired by the present owner from the above.

    EXHIBITED:
    Schneider's Kunstsalon, Frankfurt, November 1907, no. 12.

    LITERATURE:
    Mme. Fantin-Latour, Catalogue de l'oeuvre complet de Fantin-Latour, Paris, 1911, p. 65, no. 541.

    Henri Fantin-Latour is widely admired today for his exquisite still-life paintings of flowers, painted with extraordinarily sensitive brushwork and a restricted chromatic palette. The effect he was able to achieve through his delicate modulation of color, tone and texture-perhaps drawing upon his skill as a lithographer to create plain but "living" backgrounds for his floral arrangements by inflecting and mottling the zone behind the bouquets-seemed to push his goal of being true to Nature into the realm of symbolism. His flowers exist in an envelope of real space, which has diffused atmosphere but is profoundly serene, as though the moment he is allowing us to witness is loaded with emotional significance.

    The present work of 1871, Fleurs: camomille et dahlias, is a superb example of Fantin's gift for creating still lifes that possess a kind of intimate resonance that is generally found in portraiture, i.e., the sensation of regarding someone's face and body language. Interestingly, portraiture was the other important aspect of Fantin's artistic life; he devoted most of his early career to painting self-portraits as well as likenesses of friends and family. And he achieved recognition for his group portraits of Parisian artists and writers, which became something of a specialty. It is evident that his skill in portraiture spilled over into his still lifes.

    In his flower paintings, Fantin painted individual bouquets, but frequently paired arrangements of very different flowers within the same composition-like group portraits-which was not the usual convention at the time. In the present work, for example, a tall vase of tiny white chamomile flowers on willowy stems is paired with a short shallow bowl of vivid dahlias. The two almost seem to be in conversation with one another. The chamomiles twinkle delicately in the back, painted with tiny strokes, while the dahlias are forcefully massed in a bowl in the front, and are painted with thicker licks of impasto.

    The first owner of this painting was a significant figure in the life and career of Fantin-Latour: British artist/art dealer Edwin Edwards (1823-1879). A fortuitous meeting of Fantin and Edwards in 1861 helped Fantin find a livelihood in art after struggling to make a living in France. At the time of their meeting, Edwards had only recently given up his lucrative law career at the insistence of his wife, Elizabeth, to pursue a career as a painter. Edwards had found encouragement among other artists in Paris, Fantin among them. Soon Fantin was invited to join the Edwardses in Sunbury, Surrey, and a friendship formed among the three of them based on similar interests in art and in music. By 1862 Fantin was requesting Edwards to assist him in selecting and submitting a still life to the Royal Academy (which was accepted), and along with the help of another friend, James Abbott McNeil Whistler, new opportunities to sell his still lifes to English clients opened up. Before long Fantin's work was more assiduously collected in England than in his native France.

    During the Prussian siege of Paris in 1870, Fantin stayed with his father and remained productive while the crisis raged outside. When Edwards was once more able to travel to Paris in 1871, he bought all Fantin's work from the previous year to sell in England assuring Fantin of a livelihood. The present painting dates from this time of unsettled life in Paris.

    While their relationship with Fantin devolved into a mostly business-only arrangement by 1872, the Edwardses were the key factor in enabling Fantin to gain a level of financial success in England, which in turn provided him the freedom to pursue his artistic passion. His remarkable double portrait of Mr. and Mrs. Edwin Edwards of 1875 (Tate Gallery, London), painted four years after the present still life, is one of the best and most psychologically incisive portraits of his career. When it was exhibited at the 1875 Salon, it received unmitigated praise, firmly launched his star in France, and earned a description that could apply just as aptly to the present still life: "It is luminous without all the tricks normally used to represent light. The color is beautiful without recourse to loud or extraordinary tones."

    This painting will be included in the catalogue raisonné of Henri Fantin-Latour's paintings and pastels by Galerie Brame & Lorenceau now in preparation.


    Condition Report*: Lined canvas. Faint finely patterned craquelure. An approximately 1/8-inch vertical scratch in lower right corner and along lower edge. Very faint stretcher bar marks visible at upper and right edges under raking light.
    Under UV: heavily applied varnish fluoresces green unevenly. A few scattered finely applied pinpoints of retouching in lower left corner. Reinforcement applied to leaf at the base of chamomile bouquet. Minor touches of pink reinforcement to centermost purple/pink dahlia fluoresce.
    Framed Dimensions 30.75 X 26 Inches
    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Some condition issues may not be noted in the condition report but are apparent in the provided photos which are considered part of the condition report. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. Heritage does not guarantee the condition of frames and shall not be liable for any damage/scratches to frames, glass/acrylic coverings, original boxes, display accessories, or art that has slipped in frames. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2021
    4th Friday
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