This is one of many evocations of classically-inspired figures painted by Fantin-Latour. Here, the victorious Cupid hovers above four female figures, three semi-naked in colourful robes and one naked, her back to us, looking up at him. The dramatic gestures of all four women and the pose of the figure in pink, on the right, suggest that the scene might derive from an opera, perhaps a love aria. The background is indistinct and the paintwork is dry and textured. 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).
unframed: 81cm x 60cm
framed: 98.3cm x 76.8cm
Place of creation
[BG] Manchester Art Gallery - Balcony Gallery
© Manchester Art Gallery