Henri Fantin-Latour, 1836 - 1904


Henri Fantin-Latour 1836 - 1904


Fantin-Latour painted some twenty self-portraits, most during the decade 1857-67. Mme Fantin dated this one to 1867. Here, he stands erect in a dark suit and tie, the collar of his shirt crisp and white, with nothing to indicate his profession. An earlier self-portrait (1849, Musée de Grenoble, inv. no. MG1334), for example, has him in a flowing shirt, holding a long paintbrush in his left hand. His brow is slightly furrowed, but the expression is serious, rather than troubled. The thick, chestnut hair is neatly brushed back, allowing the light to fall full on the right side of his face, defining his bone structure, and leaving his left side in deep shadow. It is a device with a long history in self-portraiture, used by Guercino, Van Dyck and Velasquez, and, just a few years before, by Courbet. The perspective, slightly from below, encourages the notion that this is a painter to look up to. Fantin-Latour studied from the age of ten with his father, Jean-Théodore Fantin-Latour (1805–75). In 1850, at fourteen, he began an apprenticeship in the Paris studio of Horace Lecocq de Boisbaudran, where he spent six years copying from the Old Masters and from nature, which was standard practice in mid-nineteenth-century ateliers. Following a brief spell at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, he studied briefly with Gustave Courbet, although he would reject the latter's extreme realism. Although Fantin-Latour sometimes exhibited alongside the Impressionists, he continued to show his work at the Salon, where his work attracted good reviews. From the 1870s, he developed further his early interest in mythological subjects and music, inspired by Old Master painting, and by the music of Wagner and Berlioz. His brushwork was often loose, but the lustrous realism of his still life painting recalls the meticulous work of 17th and 18th century Dutch masters of that genre, and that of the great 18th century French still life painter, Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin (1699-1779).

Object Name


Creators Name

Henri Fantin-Latour

Date Created



unframed: 64cm x 55.2cm
framed: 95.2cm x 85.3cm

accession number


Place of creation





oil paint


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