Please note this work was painted in circa 1904. It was also in the collection of Madame Michel before it belonged to F. W. G. Fitzgerald in Toronto.
This work will be included in the Catalogue Raisonné of Fantin-Latour's paintings and pastels now in preparation by the Galerie Brame & Lorenceau.
Property of the Art Gallery of Ontario, deaccessioned to benefit art purchases at the AGO
With a collection of more than 80,000 works of art, the Art Gallery of Ontario is among the most distinguished art museums in North America. From the vast body of Group of Seven and signature Canadian works to the African art gallery, from the cutting-edge contemporary art to Peter Paul Rubens’ masterpiece The Massacre of The Innocents, the AGO offers an extraordinary experience with each visit. In 2002 Ken Thomson’s generous gift of 2,000 remarkable works of Canadian and European art inspired Transformation AGO, an innovative architectural expansion by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry that in 2008 resulted in one of the most critically acclaimed architectural achievements in North America.
The AGO has recently refined its deaccessioning policy as part of an effort to refine and improve the public, community and art historical value of its collection. The Gallery recognizes that deaccessioning is an important part of collections care, and adheres to the guidelines agreed upon by the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) and the Association of Art Museum Curators (AAMC). The deaccessioning of the lots in this sale was part of a carefully guided process in which the works were subjected to a rigorous and thorough review by the AGO’s curatorial staff, executive team and board members, in consultation with donors or their legal representatives.
By the early 1860s, Henri Fantin-Latour was producing three genres of painting simultaneously that would sustain him throughout his entire career: still life painting, from which he had the most commercial success, portraiture and imaginative or mythological scenes. His imaginative works are often inspired by the artist’s great love of music and like the five examples offered for sale here, are characterized by a freedom of draftsmanship and brushwork and the use of a strong, saturated palette.
These sensuous beauties and allegorical or literary scenes were considered by the artist himself to be his best and most important work. They are unique in the development of 19th Century European Art in that they are not Academic in execution nor are they fully Impressionistic. Indeed, in these five works of Fantin-Latour one can see in him a precursor to the artists of the Symbolist movement in their individual expression and dream-like qualities.
In 1880, the author Emile Zola wrote: ‘The canvases of M. Fantin-Latour do not assault your eyes, do not leap at you from the walls. They must be looked at for a length of time in order to penetrate them, and their conscientiousness, their simple truth – you take them in entirely and then you return’ (E. Zola, quoted in Edward Lucie-Smith, Henri Fantin-Latour, New York, 1977, p. 37).
Fantin-Latour’s love of the compositions and operas of Richard Wagner, Hector Berlioz, Robert Schumann and Johannes Brahms was nurtured and developed by his wife, fellow artist Victoria Dubourg (1840-1926), who after his death devoted herself fully to preserving his memory, promoting his art and working on the catalogue raisonné until its publication in 1911.