Galerie Brame et Lorenceau will include this painting in their forthcoming Catalogue raisonné des peintures et pastels de Fantin-Latour.
Nature morte (Dahlias, raisins et pêches) is an especially elegant and accomplished still life, painted by Henri Fantin-Latour in 1868. By this date, Fantin's finely executed still lifes had become highly desirable amongst British collectors and he successfully established a name for himself, first in England, and later in France, as a master in this genre of painting.
In 1858, Fantin met James Abbott McNeill Whistler in Paris and, upon Whistler's suggestion, travelled to London for the first time the following year. A subsequent trip in 1861 led Fantin to increasingly turn his attention to the painting of still lifes for which there was a ready market in England. His access to British patronage was largely provided through Whistler's efforts as well as those of the artist and etcher Edwin Edwards. Fantin's decision to dedicate more of his time to still life painting was substantially motivated by a desire to hone his considerable powers of observation; moreover, he combined this remarkable acuity of vision with an exquisite sense of colour and a distinct eye for composition. This is evidenced in Nature morte in the intensely coloured dahlias, near-translucent grapes, fleshy peaches and luminescent plates, all presented within a shallow pictorial space and against a superbly textured background. It is clear that Fantin enjoyed working on his still lifes at this time; in a letter to Whistler dated to the year the present still life was executed, he wrote that he had, 'never done still lifes with more pleasure.' Whistler recognised this in the paintings themselves, remarking of a number of flower pieces the artist had sent him that, 'they are astonishing! - an amazing burst of colour! - amazing is the right word - for although I always expect, when being shown new works by you, to see the freshness and colours that are especially your own, this time I was more surprised than ever by the brilliance and the purity of these flowers! - The effect in my studio is staggering - and I feel you have found something new, in the boldness of your colours which strikes me as enormous progress' (Whistler, letter to Fantin-Latour, 30 September 1868, reproduced in N. Thorp, ed., Whistler on Art: Selected Letters and Writings of James McNeill Whistler, Manchester, 2004, p. 33).
The quality of Nature morte is attested to by its distinguished provenance. This painting was, for a time, in the collection of Sir Kenneth Clark, who was director of the National Gallery in London between 1933 and 1945, and who is considered one of the most important and influential art historians of the twentieth century.