[Exhibition spotlight] Fantin-Latour Retrospective at Musée du Luxembourg

This 19th-century French painter of floral still-lifes and group portraits of the French intelligentsia is the subject of a fantastic new exhibition at Musée du Luxembourg, Paris.

Henri Fantin-Latour (1836-1904) first exhibited his Hommage à Délacroix at the Salon of 1864. In an awkward, stilted composition, some of the most illustrious names of the time, including Whistler, Champfleury, Manet and Baudelaire, along with Fantin himself, are seated or standing around a portrait of the deceased artist, Eugène Delacroix. Striking for the stark contrast between the artist’s white shirt and the deeply sombre clothing of the others, the painting would be one of the first amongst many other group portraits that the French painter would produce in his lifetime.

Born in Grenoble, Henri Fantin-Latour learnt how to draw from his father and in 1850, joined the studio of Horace Lecoq de Boisbaudran. Fantin spent long hours copying the works at Musée du Louvre, which led to some of his first assignments as a copyist. He is best known and remembered for his group portraits and still life paintings of delicately arranged flowers.

Henri Fantin-Latour, A fleur de peau, Exhibition at Musee du Luxembourg, Paris | Urban Mishmash
Henri Fantin-Latour, La Lecture (1877). Courtesy Musée des Beaux-Arts, Lyon
© Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon / Photo Alain
Basset

Musée du Luxembourg’s new retrospective of Henri Fantin-Latour’s works is refreshing in that it goes beyond these genres and explores some of the other themes and styles that formed part of the artist’s oeuvre. Titled “A fleur de peau”, the exhibition unfolds chronologically, with the first room dedicated to some of the early works that Fantin painted between 1853 and 1873. In a dimly lit room, the portraits of artists’ two sisters absorbed in quotidian tasks stand in sharp contrast with the dramatic and gritty (and somewhat unsettling) self-portraits of the artist.

Henri Fantin-Latour, A fleur de peau, Exhibition at Musee du Luxembourg, Paris | Urban Mishmash
Henri Fantin-Latour, Autoportrait, la tête légèrement baissée (Self-Portrait) (1861).
Courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington
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Musée du Luxembourg

19 Rue de Vaugirard
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[Exhibition spotlight] Fantin-Latour Retrospective at Musée du Luxembourg
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