Henri Fantin-Latour

Nature morte, grosses fraises et roses

Oil on canvas: 7.2(h) x 11.9(w) in /

18.4(h) x 30.2(w) cm

Signed and dated upper left: Fantin '78

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BV 145



Grenoble 1836 – 1904 Buré


Nature morte, grosses fraises et roses


Signed and dated upper left: Fantin. 78

Oil on canvas: 7 ¼ x 11 7/8 in / 18.4 x 30.2 cm

Frame size: 12 x 17 in / 30.5 x 43.2 cm



Edwin Edwards (1823-1879), London

Christie’s London, 26th July 1929, lot 126

Doris Keane, New York, acquired by 1945;

by descent to Ronda Keane-Muschenheim, New York;

by whom given to a New York private collector in the 1980s



Mme Fantin-Latour, Catalogue de l’oeuvre complet de Fantin-Latour, 1849-1904, Paris 1911, p.94, no.893


To be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné of the paintings and pastels of Henri Fantin-Latour currently being prepared by Galerie Brame & Lorenceau



Henri Fantin-Latour had a profound understanding of the tradition of European still life painting, copying works in the Louvre and being particularly influenced by the exquisite compositions of Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin (1699-1779). His early still life paintings from the 1860s were complex, with arrangements of flowers, fruit and ceramics on table tops. In the following decade he greatly simplified his compositions and began to concentrate on painting roses, for which he became celebrated both in France and England, where his work found great favour.


This painting, made in 1878, combines the motif of roses with a bowl of luscious strawberries, bursting with ripeness and sweetness. With rapid, painterly brushwork, Fantin-Latour explores the complex whorls of the roses and the texture of the fruit, embedded with tiny seeds that catch the light. Fantin-Latour places his still life against on a table against a rich brown background, the neutral tones of which throw fruit and flowers into sculptural relief. The painting speaks of nature’s abundance and the pleasures of high summer, which Fantin-Latour enjoyed at his new wife’s family home at Buré in Normandy.


The first owner of this work was the lawyer Edwin Edwards (1823-1879) one of Fantin-Latour’s staunchest patrons. Fantin-Latour had met Edwards while staying with the sister of his friend and mentor James McNeill Whistler in London in 1859. Edwards, a former King’s Proctor and keen amateur painter, shared with Fantin-Latour a passion for music. He bought many of Fantin-Latour’s still lifes and became in effect his English dealer, in 1871 clearing the artist’s studio of sketches, still life and flower pieces after the privations of the Franco-Prussian War and establishing a buoyant market for his work in England. After Edwards’s death Fantin-Latour maintained a friendship with his wife, Ruth, a gifted pianist.




Grenoble 1836 – 1904 Buré



Henri Fantin-Latour painted sensitive portraits and subject pictures, but is chiefly renowned today for his outstanding flower still lifes, which were especially popular in England and America. He was born in Grenoble in 1836, the son of the portrait painter Jean-Théodore Fantin-Latour and his Russian wife Helène de Naidenoff. Henri studied with his father, with Lecoq de Boisbaudran, and in Courbet’s studio in 1861. He copied works in the Louvre, gaining a lifelong respect for the European Old Master tradition, especially Titian’s use of colour and Chardin’s painterly still-lifes. Fantin met Manet in 1857 and exhibited at the 1863 Salon des Refusés, but eschewed the first Impressionist exhibition of 1874, preferring the Salon, where he exhibited from 1861 to 1899. Although on good terms with the Impressionists, he was wary of the excesses of the avant-garde.


In 1858 Fantin encountered Whistler and subsequently made four trips to England. On his second visit, in 1861, he was taught to etch by Whistler’s brother-in-law Seymour Haden and met Ruth and Edwin Edwards, who were to become Fantin’s agents in England, building up a market for his still-lifes in that country. Fantin executed a series of incisive self-portraits in the second half of the 1850s. From 1864 he produced a series of group portraits which serve as Fantin’s ‘professions of faith’ in contemporary art and culture. They depict writers and artists in works such as Studio in the Batignolles (Musée d’Orsay, Paris), shown at the Salon in 1870, which brings together Zola, Monet and Renoir in the studio of Manet.


Fantin’s flower still lifes combined harmony of composition and acute observation of the structure of plants with rich, painterly brushwork. He preferred to paint his blooms in the studio against a plain background which emphasized their tranquil, poetic beauty. Jacques-Emile Blanche wrote: ‘Fantin studied each flower, each petal, its grain, its tissue, as if it were a human face’. In 1876 he married his pupil Victoria Dubourg (1840-1926). The couple spent their summers at Victoria’s family home at Buré in Normandy, where the abundant garden inspired Fantin to more informal and lavish still lifes.


A lifelong music lover (his wife was a fine musician), Fantin was inspired by Berlioz and Wagner, whose lush Romanticism and complex, mythic themes provided subjects for the Symbolist aspect of his art. His lithographs of scenes from The Ring were reproduced in Adolphe Jullien’s biography Richard Wagner (1888). Henri Fantin-Latour died at Buré in 1904.









ImpressionistHenri Fantin-Latour