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Ignace-Henri-Théodore Fantin-Latour, A Basket of Roses

Key facts
Full title A Basket of Roses
Artist Ignace-Henri-Théodore Fantin-Latour
Artist dates 1836 - 1904
Date made 1890
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 48.9 × 60.3 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit Bequeathed by Mrs M.J. Yates, 1923
Inventory number NG3726
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
A Basket of Roses
Ignace-Henri-Théodore Fantin-Latour

It seems as if these roses have been tossed almost carelessly into the wicker basket – they tumble over the edge and onto the table – but the disarray is artful. The subtle colours – pure white, cream, pale apricot and pink – have been carefully balanced to establish harmony and the heads of the blooms turned in different directions to catch the clear, bright light and show the unique qualities of each flower.

The leaves are glossy and the petals have a multitude of textures, but these roses seem to have little to do with the natural world outside. They appear too pristine and untouched, and although the bare, mottled background brings out their colours, it isolates them as though in an empty room. But it is this very isolation that made the picture ideal for a heavily ornamented, bourgeois Victorian drawing room – a moment to breathe amongst the expensive clutter.

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