Sunday, February 12, 2012

Painting of the Day: Branche de Lys, 1877

Branche de Lys
Henri Fantin-Latoure, 1877
The Victoria & Albert Museum

A delicate floral still-life, this painting is the work of Henri Fantin-Latour (1836-1904) son of the famed Jean-Théodore Fantin-Latour (1805-75).  In 1861 Henri worked in Gustave Courbet's studio for several months as a pupil, working on a period of portraiture before embarking on the primary concentration of flowers paintings and still-lifes for which he is now best known.

This painting is a brilliant example of Fantin-Latour's paintings of flowers—a subject he painted over 500 times.  This example depicts a stem of white lilies whose pure white contrasts against the unyielding dark background. This effect of light and color are characteristic of the new naturalism which arose in French art in the second half of the Nineteenth Century--anticipating the Impressionists' experiments.  

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