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Roses and Flowers in a Glass

Henri Fantin-Latour

Artwork Details

Roses and Flowers in a Glass
circa 1870-1890
Henri Fantin-Latour
oil on canvas
14 in. x 12 5/8 in. ( 35.6 cm x 32.1 cm )
Bequest of Margaret Watson Parker


March 28 2009
Henri Fantin-Latour painted in a wide variety of genres, but he is perhaps best known for the beautiful still lifes that were his particular specialty. Though in the 1860s he socialized with the most progressive artists of his day, such as the painters Manet and Renoir, he refused to exhibit with the Impressionists in their 1874 show. His work, which was exhibited in the Paris Salons from 1861 to 1899, was both popular and generally well received by critics, and his still lifes were much admired abroad. In 1859 James McNeill Whistler (1834–1903) introduced Fantin-Latour’s work to England, where he had many patrons, and he continued to show at the Royal Academy in London until 1900.
Fantin-Latour was an aficionado of music, especially that of Berlioz and Wagner, and he made many lithographs based on themes inspired by contemporary composers. The balance and grandeur of this intimate depiction of flowers against a neutral background belies the modesty of its subject; the blooms are carefully observed and enveloped in an atmosphere that evokes “la vie silencieuse”—the quiet dignity and life of inanimate objects—and it surely embodies the imagination and lyricism he found so satisfying in music.

Subject Matter:

Although Fantin-Latour exhibited with the Impressionists, his work is not truly Impressionist in style, but grounded in study of the Old Masters and work in the studio. His still lifes have an almost palpable atmosphere and sense of light. Here, the brilliantly lit flowers stand out against the background, giving them great definition and mass. The classical balance and grandeur of the composition, beauty of coloration, and details of observation elevate Fantin-Latour's still life paintings beyond the ordinary.

Physical Description:

This painting depicts a glass vase with roses, phlox, and other flowers standing on a table. One pink rose lies next to the vase on the table; the background is an undifferentiated background of brown/tan.

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