Digital Commonwealth

Henri Fantin-Latour (1836-1904). Lithographs and Other Prints

Boston Public Library

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Henri Fantin-Latour (1836-1904) was a French painter and printmaker. Born in Grenoble, he moved with his family to Paris in 1841. There, Fantin-Latour received his first drawing lessons from his father, Jean-Théodore Fantin-Latour, who was a portrait painter. In 1850, he began more formal training as an artist at the Petite École de Dessin and then at the École des Beaux-Arts.

In Paris, Fantin-Latour befriended many of the artists who became associated with the Impressionist movement, including James Abbott McNeill Whistler and Edouard Manet. However, unlike the Impressionists, he continued to exhibit his paintings, especially his portraits and his still lifes, at the French Salon and, on Whistler’s recommendation, at the British Royal Academy in London.

As a printmaker, Fantin-Latour’s lithographs are more associated with the growing Symbolist movement of the second half of the 19th century. In particular, he used that medium to explore his interest in the relationship between the visual arts and music. Many of his prints were inspired by the compositions of the contemporary composers Richard Wagner, Robert Schuman, Johannes Brahms, Hector Berlioz, and Gioachino Antonio Rossini.

With a few exceptions, Boston Public Library’s collection of prints by Fantin-Latour came in 1949 as a gift of Albert H. Wiggin, who continued to provide new acquisitions to the library’s Print Department after his initial gift of his private collection of prints and drawings in 1941.