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Title Japanese Anemones
Collection Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums
Artist Fantin-Latour, Henri (French painter and printmaker, 1836-1904)
Date 1884 (dated)
Signed yes
Description White Japanese anemones are casually arranged in a glass vase, against a simple greenish background.

Such casual treatment of flowers, here depicted in disarray, is exemplified by Manet and Fantin-Latour, but probably has its roots in Chardin. It is certainly a French phenomenon; the painting of simple, uncluttered, seemingly spontaneous still lifes, often of wild or garden flowers in a vase or thrown onto a surface, was wholeheartedly embraced by Fantin-Latour. His flowers would be simply, even carelessly, arranged, to suggest a moment in real time. His particular skill lay in his ability to imitate the tones and textures of flowers, recognising their individual characteristics.

Current Accession Number ABDAG002274
Former Accession Number 42.2
Inscription front ll 'Fantin 84'
Subject still life
Measurements 58.2 x 38.3 cm cm (estimate)
Material oil on canvas
Acquisition Details Bequeathed by Mrs K.A. Parr 1942.
Principal Exhibitions Fantin Latour, London, Wildenstein & Co Ltd (In Aid of NACF), 1984; A Scottish Collection - Treasures from Aberdeen Art Gallery, Nagasaki (touring), 2000-2001, cat. no. 34.
Publications Aberdeen Art Gallery and Japan Association of Art Museums, A Scottish Collection - Treasures from Aberdeen Art Gallery, Tokyo, 2000, cat. no. 34, pp. 106-107; Brame, S. and Lorenceau, F., Catalogue Critique de Fantin-Latour, Paris, 2005.

Fantin-Latour's skill lies not only in the way he manages to capture the physical nature of the flowers, but also in that he recognises that they are living organisms with individual characteristics. Here he illustrates on canvas the beauty of one of nature's finest designs. The particular delicacy of the species - both in terms of its colour and its form - is expertly delineated and emphasised by the simplicity of the composition which imparts a mood of still repose on the subject. Fantin-Latour's delicate treatment of the petals, stems and leaves of the anemones is contrasted by his more schematic treatment of the background, which is of a sombre but subtle brown.

Here, and in many other paintings, Fantin-Latour preferred strong and dramatic lighting, leaving much of the background in apparent darkness. Fantin-Latour's great admiration for Rembrandt may well have inclined him towards such dramatic lighting, which serves to focus on the subject of the painting and to draw the eye into the centre of the composition.

Rights Owner Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums
Author Jennifer Melville



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