Musée d'Orsay: Henri Fantin-Latour Night

Henri Fantin-Latour

Henri Fantin-Latour (1836-1904)
Oil on canvas
H. 61; W. 75 cm
© RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski

La Nuit [Night]

For a long time, Wagner's music was believed to have influenced this painting, unusual in Fantin-Latour's work. But it seems that here the artist painted a figure purely from his imagination, wreathed in blue mists and shimmering reflections and picked out very freely with light colours. In Fantin-Latour's exhibition catalogue organised by the Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais in Paris in 1982-1983, we read: "On the left side of the painting, he uses light effects to create an area of abstraction, with no formal structure or definition, similar to a Turner painting or Monet's Thaw, whereas he paints the mist with streaks of blue, carmine and yellow mixed directly on the canvas, just like Renoir ".

The delicate brushwork, fluidity, lightness of touch and the poetry of this painting assured Fantin's critical success and recognition in official circles. The painting was bought by the State on its presentation at the 1897 Salon, while in the Journal of 9 April, the critic Gustave Geffroy wrote: "Night: no woman ever lay more softly, in a painted heaven, enveloped in waves of soft clouds".

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