Ready for a good Summer read? We’re pleased to feature artist Henri Fantin-Latour for our Summer 2021 Art History 101 Blog! You hadn’t heard of him either? Well, stay tuned. You’re in for a treat.

You see, one of my favorite things about working for Pastimes for a Lifetime is being asked to research and write about the lesser known master painters for the school’s Blog. For our students and readers, it can be very inspiring to learn about these remarkable artists, their techniques, and subject matter. It definitely gets my creative juices flowing!

When my boss, Linda Wehrli, recently elected French painter and lithographer, Henri Fantin-Latour for our next Art History 101 Blog, I drew a blank. The name didn’t ring a bell, but when I Googled him, I immediately recognized his stunning floral paintings. I was eager to learn more about this master artist!

But first, a little background about the artist, courtesy of the henri-fantin-latour.org website.

Ignace Henri Jean Fantin-Latour was a French painter and lithographer who lived from 1836 – 1904. His dad was portrait painter and teacher, Theodore Fantin-Latour. His mom was from Russia. In 1841, his family moved from Grenoble to Paris.

Fantin-Latour started drawing at an early age, taught by his father. From 1850 through 1854, Henri studied drawing at the school of Lecoq de Boisbaudran. After a short period at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, he worked temporarily at French painter Gustave Courbet‘s studio. Wow!

The Ecole Beaux-Arts is mentioned in Pastimes' Blog.

Ecole des Beaux-Arts

From 1853 onward, Fantin-Latour regularly copied works by the old masters in the Louvre, as well as paintings by Eugene Delacroix in the Musee du Luxembourg. That was the tradition back then. For 12 years, Fantin-Latour lived mainly by copying the master painters! Talk about dedication.

Fantin-Latour began to surround himself with other successful artists during that time. He met Edgar Degas in the Louvre in 1855, Édouard Manet in 1857 and Berthe Morisot in 1858. He also became friends with the great American artist James Abbott McNeill Whistler and the two artists, along with Alphonse Legros, formed the Societe des Trois. Their fearless little Société enabled them to transition from the student to professional phases of their careers.

In 1859, Whistler invited Henri to visit London. With Alphonse Legros and the amateur engraver Edwin Edwards he was able to scope out the art scene there. In 1864 Henri was able to exhibit at the Royal Academy. Very exciting! In London, Fantin-Latour’s flower pieces were becoming very popular. His painting, La Feerie was displayed at the Salon des Refuses. Despite close contacts and friendship with Impressionists, for some reason Henri rejected their theories and never took part in their exhibitions.

In addition to his paintings, Fantin-Latour created ingenious lithographs visually describing the music of some of the great classical composers. So cool! Linda will especially appreciate this, as she is a big classical music fan. 🙂 Henri’s many lithographs and paintings inspired by imaginative themes, reveal his romantic passion for Richard Wagner, Hector Berlioz, and Robert Schumann. These works strongly influenced later symbolist painters, such as Odilon Redon.

Henri also experimented with graphite, charcoal, and pen & ink! Pastimes’ students will appreciate this, as Linda teaches all 3 mediums as part of the Drawing Course Curriculum.

In 1876, Henri Fantin-Latour married a fellow painter, Victoria Dubourg. They spent summers on her family’s country estate Bure, Orne in Basse-Normandie where sadly, he eventually died of lyme disease. In 1879, Fantin-Latour was posthumously awarded the Legion d’Honneur medal.

Interested in buying one of Fantin-Latour’s paintings? Today, they only sell for around $2.5 million each! 😀

Well, we hope you enjoyed this summer’s Art History 101 blog and are inspired to learn more about this remarkable French artist.
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Art History 101 reviews selected artists from periods of history that continue to influence today’s culture and taste. If you enjoyed this story, please feel free to share on your favorite social media. Comments appreciated! If there is an artist you would like us to feature, please comment below. Thank you for your support!

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