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Panier de roses

Panier de roses
signed and dated 'Fantin. 80' (upper right)
oil on canvas
20 7⁄8 x 25 1⁄2 in. (53 x 65 cm.)
Painted in 1880
Mrs. Edwin Edwards, London.
Juan Cabruja, Paris; his sale, Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, 20 May 1921, lot 13.
F. & J. Tempelaere, Paris, by whom acquired at the above sale.
Jules Allard, Paris.
Thomas McClean [Eugène Cremetti], London.
James Connell & Sons, Glasgow.
Thomas Guthrie Brownlie, Glasgow, by whom acquired from the above in April 1925.
Mrs. R. W. Millar, by descent from the above; sale, Christie's, London, 27 June 1988, lot 6.
Richard Green, London, by whom acquired at the above sale.
Private collection, United Kingdom, by whom acquired from the above in August 1988.
Richard Green, London.
Kenneth Rainin, California, by whom acquired from the above in August 1991, and thence by descent; sale, Sotheby's, New York, 7 November 2007, lot 70.
Richard Green, London.
Acquired from the above on 26 September 2008, and thence by descent to the present owners.
Mme. Fantin-Latour, L'Œuvre complet de Fantin-Latour, Paris, 1911, no. 999, p. 103.
Further details
Brame & Lorenceau will include this work in their forthcoming Fantin-Latour catalogue raisonné des peintures et pastels.

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Lot Essay

Fantin-Latour painted Panier de roses for his most important patron, Mrs. Edwin Edwards who commissioned several paintings on the subject of the floral still life throughout the 1890s. Although he painted all varieties of flowers, often mixing them in a single arrangement, Fantin’s sensuous, sensitive treatment of roses was especially prized and significantly contributed to his fame as the leading painter of floral still lifes during the late 19th century. Roses were widely popular in Victorian England, where Fantin developed the most steady and reliable market for his flower paintings. England surpassed France to become the world’s leader in rose cultivation; a rosarium constructed in Abner Park Cemetery, northeast London, in 1840, possessed a collection numbering more than a thousand cultivars, varieties and species.
In many ways, the rose is the supreme test of a flower painter’s skill. To paint the rose at its best, the artist must impart a convincing sense of roundness and weight to the densely layered blossoms of the most complex varieties—the tea rose, noisette, and hybrid perpetuals (the latter developed by the Victorians)—while at the same time suggesting the lightness and delicacy of the individual petals. This could not be expressed more abundantly in Fantin’s immaculate execution of Panier de roses. 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. Dispensing with the complicated, overly abundant compositions in which most floral painters liked to show off their skills, Fantin preferred to work with simpler arrangements that allowed him to focus attention on the delicate qualities of the blossoms themselves, a quality his English collectors particularly appreciated. The close harmony of white and pale pink blossoms in the present still-life reflects the taste, in both Paris and London, for the “symphony” paintings of James McNeill Whistler.
“It is in his roses that Fantin has no equal,” the painter Jacques-Emile Blanche wrote. “The rose—so complicated in its design, contours and colour, in its rolls and curls, now fluted like the decoration of a fashionable hat, round and smooth, now like a button or a woman’s breast—no one understood them better than Fantin. He confers a kind of nobility on the rose, which so many watercolourists have rendered insipid and insignificant by their bits of colouring on vellum, screens, and fans. He bathes it in light and air, uncovering with the point of his scraper the canvas…beneath layers of colour, so creating these interstices through which the painting breathes… He captures the physiognomy of the flower he is copying; it is that particular flower and not another on the same stem: he draws and constructs the flower, and does not satisfy himself with giving an impression of it through bright, cleverly juxtaposed splashes of colour” (“Fantin-Latour,” Revue de Paris, 15 May 1906, pp. 311-312).

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