Henri Fantin-Latour is difficult to place in the French art scene of the second half of the 19th century. An outsider both to academic circles and to the Impressionist group, he was a close friend of Edouard Manet and frequented the bourgeois salons of Paris with him. Fantin- Latour, like Manet, deeply loved Delacroix’s painting and considered the Old Masters exhibited in the Louvre as necessary models in the training of any self-respecting artist. Renowned for his distinctiveapproach to the group portrait – poisedbetween social narrative, cultural manifesto and genre scene, such as his famed Homage to Delacroix–Fantin-Latour was also very successful as a still life painter. Although he did not consider this to be his
most important genre, his floral compositions fully express his technical skills and sensitivity to chromatic harmony. Indeed, his rich palette and deft use of colour impressed his contemporaries: Zola and Huysmans proclaimed him as one of the best colourists of the time. As hostile to Impressionism as he was to academic pedantry, Fantin-Latour achieved great fame during his lifetime but was then progressively forgotten in the decades following his death: his painting was too bourgeois, refined and aesthetically pleasing to a generation that had elected the Impressionist revolution as their model.