With its collections of ancient, modern and contemporary art, the Musée de Grenoble offers you a chance to traverse the history of western painting from the 13th to the 20th centuries. Included are major masterpieces of classical Flemish, Dutch, Italian and Spanish painting; one of 20th century Europe’s richest collections; and all the great post-1945 contemporary art trends, right up to the most recent artworks of the 2000s.
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This small masterpiece of balance and harmony was the engagement gift offered by the artist to his wife to be, Victoria Dubourg. This room also has a portrait of her, painted by Fantin in 1877.
Fantin-Latour produced more than 800 pictures of flowers between 1864 and 1896. He would prepare his palette the day before, and pick his flowers that same morning, before setting to work. He lit the bouquets with a filtered light and behind them arranged a neutral-coloured basket, so as to reduce the space depth-wise. The décor was often nothing more than a simple table.
The cherries and the small bowl of strawberries, the camellia and the glass of wine are all organized around the bunch of spring flowers set at the centre of the composition. The discreet interplay of proportions and the subtle balance of the colours, arrayed on either side of the vase, create a gentle, peaceful atmosphere. The creamy whites and purplish blues contrast with the differing reds, ranging from the opaque purple of the wine to the pale pink of the hyacinths.
In 1863, Fantin-Latour took part in the famous “Salon des refuses”. He was close to the Impressionists, but never adopted their technique: he did not enjoy painting outside. His light touch and the blurred aspect of certain outlines nevertheless call to mind that freedom dear to outdoor painters.
Born in Grenoble in 1836, the artist left the city at the age of five. After his death, his widow made an important bequest, including this work and one or two others, which are on view in this show.
Henri Fantin-Latour, Grenoble
Still Life (The Engagement), 1869
© Musée de Grenoble