Victoria Fantin-Latour (née Dubourg) (1840-1926)


Victoria Fantin-Latour, born in Paris in 1840, was the wife of the famous French painter Henri Fantin-Latour. She studied under the portrait painter Fanny Chéron and probably met Henri Fantin-Latour at the Louvre, Paris, where they were both studying the masters in the mid-1860s. Around 1867-8 she was associated with the circle of Edouard Manet, Berthe Morisot, Fantin-Latour and Edgar Degas, and it was at this time that Degas painted a quite unflattering portrait of her (Toledo, OH, Mus. A.).

While it may be impossible to prove that she was actually a pupil of Fantin-Latour, the early works she exhibited at the Salon are in a style close to his, in particular the portrait of her sister Charlotte Dubourg (exh. Paris Salon, 1870; Grenoble, Mus. Grenoble). In this intimate indoor portrait the neutral background recalls the austerity of Fantin-Latour's early portraits. The position of the model is a little stiff, and her expression is like that of a spectator.

After exhibiting two portraits at the Salons of 1869 and 1870, she showed only still-lifes of fruit and flowers, often signed with her maiden name, V. Dubourg or monogrammed V. D. From Fantin-Latour she derived a simplicity of composition, an absence of detail and neutral but vibrant backgrounds; her flowers, grouped in generous bouquets, stand out from backgrounds of sustained greyish scumbling or red-brown tones. Her brushstrokes, in long flecks of colour or in tight scumbling, emphasise the play of light and shade.