The Bathers

Henri Fantin-Latour, 1836 - 1904

The Bathers

Henri Fantin-Latour 1836 - 1904


This painting is probably from the period 1871-4, when Fantin-Latour executed a large number of small bathing and kindred scenes. Three women have come to bathe in a woodland stream. They are in a triangular composition in varying degrees of undress: two have bare shoulders and one, facing us, is already almost naked. Their faces and bodies are indistinct, but their bright dresses and pale skin stand out in the sunlight penetrating the shady clearing. The foliage is suggested by a rich array of colours, including yellow, orange, brown and green. The lack of definition across the painting leads to an emphasis on colour and form. 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

The Bathers

Creators Name

Henri Fantin-Latour

Date Created



framed: 46.4cm x 50.3cm

accession number


Place of creation







Dr David Lloyd Roberts bequest, 1920


© Manchester Art Gallery

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