Working Among Flowers

“[The floral still life] is, I think, an excellent subject to paint.”

                                                                            – Claude Monet to Frédéric Bazille

White Roses in a Vase 1906 Victoria Dubourg Fantin-Latour, floral painting.
White Roses in a Vase 1906 Victoria Dubourg Fantin-Latour, floral painting.

Among the many wonderful works in the exhibition, Working Among Flowers – Floral Still Life Painting in Nineteenth-Century France, were paintings by one of our favorite artists, Henri Fantin-Latour (1836 – 1904). The show includes works by dozens of artists including Matisse, Bonnard, Redon, Monet, van Gogh, Cézanne, Cassatt, Renoir as well as earlier works by artists of the eighteenth century including Chardin and Redouté. It has traveled from the Dallas Museum of Art to the Virginia Museum of Fine Art, where we had the opportunity to view it, and will reopen on July 19th at the Denver Art Museum.

Vase de Fleurs, 1913, Vistoria Dubourg Fantin-Latour
Vase de Fleurs, 1913, Vistoria Dubourg Fantin-Latour

It is comprised of far more than what the title conveys, including works from nearly two centuries, a time during which still life and landscape subjects were beginning to supplant the traditional historical and religious subjects of paintings. The still life was being reinvented and elevated beyond its previous classification of decorative to a new acceptance as important and serious work.

Fantin-Latour was a master of the genre. His exquisite floral still lifes have captivated and inspired us for years and it was a special treat to see this grouping of them in person. But we were not familiar with the equally brilliant work of his wife, artist Victoria Dubourg Fantin-Latour (1840 – 1926). Although the exhibition included only one of her paintings, it spurred us to learn more about her life and work.

Yellow Roses in a Vase, date unknown, Victoria Dubourg Fantin-Latour floral painting
Yellow Roses in a Vase, date unknown, Victoria Dubourg Fantin-Latour floral painting

Dubourg was born in Paris. It was at age 26 that she met Fantin-Latour at the Louvre, where they were both copying master paintings as part of their study. After a long engagement, they were married in 1876. The painting above was Fantin-Latour’s gift to Dubourg upon their engagement. Dubourg and Fantin-Latour were central to their circle of friends, Edouard Manet, Berthe Morisot and Edgar Degas. It is surprising that Dubourg’s exemplary work is not as well known today as that of her contemporaries.

The two worked side by side in adjacent studios, both creating paintings that have been called “domestic interior landscapes”. Dubourg exhibited at the Paris Salons of 1894 and 1895 and was a member of the Royal Academy from 1882 through 1896. She received the Legion d’Honneur in 1920. She was an accomplished artist winning awards at the Salons and selling to the Musée de Luxembourg.

The Engagement Still Life, 1869, Henri Fantin-Latour
The Engagement Still Life, 1869, Henri Fantin-Latour

Dubourg and Fantin-Latour, each in their own right, established successful and independent careers. Dubourg was also an avid gardener, and it is believed that the flowers from her cottage garden were those that were used in her paintings and in those of Fantin-Latour.

Perhaps we know so little about Dubourg’s work and so much more about her husband’s paintings because she dedicated herself after his death to creating his catalogue raisonné and insuring his legacy would be secured.

We thought you might enjoy seeing some of her exceptional paintings.

Join us on The Artist’s Road for more interesting discussions, interviews with top artists and discounts in the unique Artist’s Road Store.

–John and Ann







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John Hulsey and Ann Trusty

About John Hulsey and Ann Trusty

John Hulsey and his wife, Ann Trusty created the website, The Artist's Road - Painting the World's Beautiful Places.  The Artist's Road inspires with practical art tips and painting techniques for the traveling artist, video painting tutorials and demonstrations, workshop resources, artist profiles and interviews and remarkable painting locations.  The Artist's Road is an artist community for oil, watercolor and pastel artists.  Articles cover intriguing art travel experiences artists have had while painting the world's beautiful places. "I believe I must speak through my art, for the preservation of Nature and the natural landscape from which I take my inspiration and living." John Hulsey is an accomplished artist, author and teacher who has been working professionally for over thirty years. In addition to producing new work for exhibition and teaching workshops, Mr. Hulsey continues to write educational articles about painting for national art magazines, including Watercolor magazine and American Artist Magazine. He has been selected as a "Master Painter of the United States" by International Artist Magazine where his work was previously chosen to be included in the top ten of their international landscape painting competition. He was awarded residencies at Yosemite, Glacier and Rocky Mountain National Parks. "I strive in my art to celebrate the mysteries of Nature - the fleeting light on the landscape, the unimaginable diversity of creatures, the beauty of each leaf and flower." Ann Trusty  is an accomplished third generation artist whose work embodies the natural world and is created through direct observation and translation of her subjects into her paintings. She has found inspiration in the dancing light across the water of the Hudson River (where she had a studio for ten years), as well as the big sky and waving tall grasses of the open plains of the Midwest (her current home). Her work has been exhibited throughout the United States, France and Turkey in both museum and gallery exhibitions, and has been reviewed favorably by the New York Times.