This finely observed, delicately painted still life attests to the painter’s subtlety.
Henri Théodore Fantin-Latour (1836-1904), Nature morte à la tasse et au pot de terre (still life with cup and clay pot), 1860, oil on canvas glued to cardboard, 21 x 32.5 cm (8.27 x 12.8 in).
Several major shows, including a 2016-2017 retrospective at the Grand Palais in Paris, have recently featured Henri Théodore Fantin-Latour’s work. Now he is back with Nature morte à la tasse et au pot de terre (still life with cup and clay pot). The work dates to 1860, when the artist decided to use such compositions to study contrasts between tones and textures. The painting comes across as a stylistic exercise: a china cup, its light making the gold lines glitter, contrasts with a rustic clay pot. Both stand out against a neutral ground in a stronger color, while shading lends harmony to the whole. white stands out against beige, brown against black. Although these items are very simply presented, they radiate elegance. Mme. Fantin-Latour inventoried four other still lifes painted the same year in a similar spirit.
Next came a surprise. A painting by Marie Joseph Léon Clavel, known as Iwill, La Nuit, Venise (Night, Venice), was estimated €300, but its dreamlike quality pushed the bidding up to €7,527 (38 x 61 cm, 14.97 x 24.02 in).