Bouquet de jardin
signed 'Fantin' (lower right)
oil on canvas
19 7/8 x 24 1/4 in. (50.6 x 61.4 cm.)
Painted in 1900
Gustave Tempelaere, Paris.
Louis Guyotin, Paris.
Adolphe Tavernier, Paris; sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 15 April 1907, lot 14.
M. Bonjean (acquired at the above sale).
Albert Dubosc, Sainte-Adresse (by 1936).
Galerie Brame et Lorenceau, Paris.
Acquired by Ann and Gordon Getty from the above, 3 May 1982.
Mme Fantin-Latour, Catalogue de l'oeuvre complet de Fantin-Latour, Paris, 1911, p. 196, no. 1843.
Musée-bibliothèque de Grenoble, Centenaire de Fantin-Latour, August-October 1936, p. 32, no. 166 (titled Bouquet de jardin dans un verre en cristal).
Paris, Galeries nationales du Grand Palais; Ottawa, National Gallery of Canada and Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, Henri Fantin-Latour: A Retrospective Exhibition, November 1982-September 1983.
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

When Henri Fantin-Latour painted Bouquet de jardin in 1900, he was widely acknowledged as the greatest living painter of flowers, famous not only in artistic circles, but in the world of gardening, horticulture and flower arrangement. Fantin-Latour’s richly detailed painted bouquets offered a distinctive take on the tradition of the floral still life. Unlike his contemporaries, the Impressionists, who brought their easels outdoors and painted directly from nature, Fantin-Latour carefully selected and gathered his flowers, bringing them into his studio where he arranged them into bouquets of symphonic color and texture.
A masterfully rendered vase of abundant flowers, the present painting demonstrates Fantin-Latour’s skill at creating elaborate still-life compositions that are especially varied and inventive in their arrangements. As the title alludes, Fantin-Latour likely picked this bouquet fresh from his garden in Buré, a town southeast of Paris, astutely displaying the flowers with the eye of a painter. The artist has carefully captured the fall of light across the blooms, as it lights up the diaphanous petals of the white and cream roses—the flowers for which he became best known for painting—as well as chrysanthemums, carnations and dahlias. While the arrangement has all the freshness and spontaneity of a freshly picked bouquet, in fact nothing has been left to chance. This skillful compositional construction was a defining character of the artist’s floral pieces. By choosing plants that accorded to his palette of whites, oranges, and yellows, with flecks of pink and bright red, the artist has imparted this seemingly natural, loose arrangement with a clear sense of structure, imbuing it with a pictorial harmony that distinguishes the finest of his works.
Fantin-Latour had first turned to the still life in the early 1860s. During his second trip to England, he found his floral depictions were particularly popular with collectors there. Encouraged by their reception, he was also pleased with the quality of these latest paintings, writing that they were “very good, in a way I haven’t managed before” (quoted in D. Druick and M. Hoog, Fantin-Latour, exh. cat., Galeries nationales du Grand Palais, Paris, 1982, p. 113). Returning to Paris, he continued to practice this genre, gradually leaving behind the portraiture that had preoccupied him prior. With the still life, Fantin-Latour applied the same intense scrutiny that was needed in the depiction of the human figure, but, he realized that the still life offered him endless variations in terms of color, texture, and composition. Emboldened, he continued to work in this mode, carving out a reputation as the leading progenitor of the still life in the latter decades of the nineteenth century.
This “persistence before nature,” as the artist termed it, was the quality he believed necessary to emulate and appreciate the work of the old masters, in particular Diego Velázquez and Rembrandt van Rijn (quoted in ibid., p. 114). Fantin-Latour regarded the genre of the floral still life as a means of honing academic discipline. As Jacques-Emile Blanche described of the artist: “Fantin studied each flower, its grain, its tissue, as if it were a human face” (quoted in E. Lucie-Smith, Henri Fantin-Latour, New York, 1977, pp. 22-23). “His belief, academic in origin,” Edmund Lucie later wrote, “that technique in painting was separable from the subject to which the artist applied it, enabled him to see the blooms he painted not as botanical specimens, but as things which, though not necessarily significant in themselves, would generate significant art upon the canvas” (ibid.).

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