Galerie Brame & Lorenceau will include this painting in their forthcoming Fantin-Latour catalogue raisonné.
From the 1860s, Henri Fantin-Latour increasingly turned his attention to still life painting. He viewed it as a challenging academic discipline and a way to fully comprehend the 'achievement of revered masters like Velasquez and Rembrandt' (D. Druick, Fantin-Latour, exh. cat., 1983, p. 114). Fantin-Latour's lush painted bouquets are a remarkable re-imagining of the tradition of floral still lifes. 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 painstakingly arranged them into bouquets of symphonic color and texture.
An admirer of German Romantic music, Fantin-Latour used individual flowers as notes to create harmonious arrangements. As Pierre Courthion stated, his 'still lifes like "chamber music" move us by their dazzling purity and precision he has understood better than anyone the visual language of a bouquet of flowers, where each flower plays its own melody...' (in Fantin-Latour, Flowers, New York, 1966, p. 1). In the present painting, Fantin-Latour has arranged a fresh bouquet of delicate delphiniums, skillfully showing why the critic Zacharie Astruc called him 'the visual poet of flowers' (quoted in D. Druick & M. Hoog, Fantin-Latour, Ottawa, 1983, p. 114).
Pieds d'alhouette was bought by the Edwards family with whom Fantin-Latour began a close friendship and an important business relationship at Sunbury in 1861. During visits to England, Fantin-Latour stayed with the Edwards who became his champions, introducing him to the most important dealers and collectors in Victorian England. Commissions for the artist's still lifes quickly followed and he soon became a commercial success.