This is a lively and fresh-looking still life. The flowers give the impression of having been casually arranged; note the broken straggler. One wonders whether the fruit is at rest or whether some of it is meant to appear to have some momentum left in it, as it apparently tumbles out of the overturned basket. The brushwork of the artist well-describes the surface texture of flowers and fruit. The clarity and firmness of the forms differentiate this work from many of his other still lifes which are handled more loosely, more fuzzily and, perhaps, more to a stereotyped formula.
The same vase and basket appear in several of the artist's paintings.
Fantin-Latour was a fellow-student of Auguste Rodin, James Tissot and Leon Lhermitte. Among his friends were Whistler, Frederick Leighton (later Lord Leighton), Manet and several of the leading Impressionists. His still lifes achieved great popularity in France and England but he came to think of them as drudgery, only persevered with to earn him a living. He felt that his real contribution to art was to be found in the ethereal, Romantic or Proto-Symbolist fantasies he painted, often inspired by the musical works of composers such as Wagner, Berlioz and Schumann. These were not very successful in his lifetime nor is he greatly esteemed for them today.
Object number: B.M.514
Production period: 19th century