When I worked at the San Antonio Museum of Art, I co-curated a print exhibit focusing on the work of Henri Fantin-Latour with Dr. Gerry D. Scott, III. After almost a decade, I negotiated a loan of the show to the International Museum of Art & Science. Seeing this work again brought back many fond memories and allowed the Rio Grande Valley community to view prints that had only been exhibited one other time.
From label copy for the exhibit:
Ignace-Henri-Theodore Fantin-Latour was born at Grenoble, France on January 14, 1836, to a French father of Italian descent and a Russian mother. His father was a portrait painter; his mother, the adopted daughter of a notorious Russian Countess. He had two younger sisters, and the whole was a close-knit family unit.
When Fantin was five, his family moved to Paris, where his father could count on a wider clientele for his portraits. Fantin was encouraged to draw from an early age and, as an adolescent, was sent to study at a school where the young Rodin and Tissot were also students. Perhaps more importantly, he also was encouraged to copy the works of the Old Masters and the neoclassical painters, popular during the Napoleonic period.
His greatest teacher, however, was the Louvre Museum, where he regularly spent days copying and studying the great paintings of the past. It was there that he met most of the significant people in his life, both as an artist and as a man. These fellow art-lovers included Manet, Whistler, and his wife, Victoria Dubourg.
Poemes d’Amour, 2e Planche. 1885
Fantin-Latour’s art is remarkably independent, yet it reflects both the work of his teachers and his contemporaries. Still-lifes and group portraits display his knowledge of the seventeenth-century Dutch Masters, as well as the French painting traditions of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries exemplified by such artists as Poussin, Boucher, and Fragonard. Fantin-Latour also shows a familiarity with the great academic painters of his day, as well as the Impressionists.
In the end, however, something which makes Fantin-Latour unique, is his passion for music, especially choral music and the opera. In his works on paper, the lyricism that resonated in the great music of his day also sounds in these works on paper.
– Dr. Gerry D. Scott, III