La Source (Alternative Title: The Source)

Henri Fantin-Latour, 1836 - 1904

La Source (Alternative Title: The Source)

Henri Fantin-Latour 1836 - 1904


In this roughly indicated mythological scene, a half-draped female figure pours water from a jar, while a naked child at her feet appears to extend his left arm, as if holding out a drinking vessel. Fantin-Latour emphasises colour and form: the robe is suggested by long, fluid brushstrokes of blue and silver-grey that mimic the silver water flowing from the jar. The forest setting and the semi-nakedness of the figure suggest that she could be a Naiad (in Greek mythology, a female spirit that presided over sources of fresh water), but the subject could have been inspired by a piece of music. 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. Fantin-Latour sometimes exhibited alongside the Impressionists, but 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, as it is here, 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

La Source (Alternative Title: The Source)

Creators Name

Henri Fantin-Latour

Date Created



framed: 42cm x 33.5cm

accession number


Place of creation







Dr David Lloyd Roberts bequest, 1920


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