This is one of four still lifes commissioned from the artist by Michael Spartali, a Greek businessman and diplomat who lived in London. Fantin worked on these canvases from March through September 1866, exhibiting one of them at the Paris Salon the same year (now National Gallery of Art, Washington). Among Fantin’s first major achievements as a still life painter, the present work reflects his aspiration to create serious and complex compositions in a realist style inspired by Chardin and Courbet.
Inscription: Signed and dated (upper left): Fantin. 1866.
Michael Spartali, London (1866–67); Michael Spartali or Stavros Dilberoglou, London (from 1867); [Tempelaere, Paris]; [Lefevre, London]; sale, Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, May 22, 1919, no. 16, as "Poires, pommes et fleurs," for Fr 34,000, to Graat et Madoulé for Gulbenkian; Calouste Gulbenkian, Paris (1919–48; gift to Cayrol); Monsieur Cayrol, Paris (from 1948); ?by descent, Mme Joel Hardion, Paris (until 1979); [Robert Schmit, Paris, David Carritt, London, Artemis, New York, and Lefevre, London, 1979–80]
Paris. Hôtel Jean Charpentier. "La Fleur: Peinture, Sculpture et Arts Appliqués du XVe au XIXe siècle," June 16–July 12, 1930, no. 21 (as "Poire, pommes et fleurs").
Paris. Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais. "Fantin-Latour," November 9, 1982–February 7, 1983, no. 36 (as "Fleurs de printemps, pommes et poires").
Ottawa. National Gallery of Canada. "Fantin-Latour," March 17–May 22, 1983, no. 36.
San Francisco. California Palace of the Legion of Honor. "Fantin-Latour," June 18–September 6, 1983, no. 36.
Paris. Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais. "Impressionnisme: Les origines, 1859–1869," April 19–August 8, 1994, no. 72 (as "Fleurs de printemps, pommes et poires [Still Life with Flowers and Fruit]").
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Origins of Impressionism," September 27, 1994–January 8, 1995, no. 72.
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. "The Masterpieces of French Painting from The Metropolitan Museum of Art: 1800–1920," February 4–May 6, 2007, no. 71.
Berlin. Neue Nationalgalerie. "Französische Meisterwerke des 19. Jahrhunderts aus dem Metropolitan Museum of Art," June 1–October 7, 2007, unnumbered cat.
Madame Fantin-Latour. Catalogue de l'oeuvre complet (1849–1904) de Fantin-Latour. Paris, 1911, p. 40, no. 288.
Charles S. Moffett and Anne Wagner inThe Metropolitan Museum of Art: Notable Acquisitions, 1979–1980. New York, 1980, pp. 43–44, ill. (color).
Artemis 79–80: Consolidated Audited Annual Report (1980), pp. 40–41, no. 17, ill. (color), discusses the influence of Chardin; mentions a pendant in a private collection in England that also once belonged to Calouste Gulbenkian.
Denys Sutton. "Cross-Currents in Nineteenth-Century French Painting." Apollo 113, no. 230 (April 1981), p. 248, ill. on cover (color).
Douglas Druick. Fantin-Latour. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Canada. Ottawa, 1983, pp. 130–32, no. 36, ill. [French ed., "Fantin-Latour," 1982, pp. 115, 128–30, no. 36, ill], together with a similar still life by Fantin-Latour included in the Salon of 1866 (F285; National Gallery of Art, Washington), identifies the MMA work as one of four still lifes commissioned from Fantin in 1866 by Michael Spartali, a Greek living in London, two of which were bought the following year by Stravos Dilberoglou; suggests a still life now in the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, and one in a private collection in England (F291) as the other two works in the group.
Charles S. Moffett. Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1985, pp. 20–21, ill. (overall and color detail).
Chuji Ikegami. New History of World Art. Vol. 22, Period of Impressionism. Tokyo, 1993, p. 432, colorpl. 175, as "Fleurs de printemps, pommes et poires".
Henri Loyrette inOrigins of Impressionism. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1994, pp. 174, 179, 296, 383, no. 72, fig. 212 (color) [French ed., Paris, 1994], discusses the question of its early provenance.
Paul de Roux. Fantin-Latour: Figures et fleurs. Paris, 1995, pp. 24–25, ill. (color).
Jean-Jacques Lévêque. Henri Fantin-Latour: Un peintre intimiste 1836–1904. Paris, 1996, ill. p. 131 (color).
Dianne W. Pitman. Bazille: Purity, Pose, and Painting in the 1860s. University Park, Pa., 1998, p. 80, fig. 49.
Susan Alyson Stein inThe Masterpieces of French Painting from The Metropolitan Museum of Art: 1800–1920. Exh. cat., Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. New York, 2007, pp. 104–5, 213, no. 71, ill. (overall and detail, color and black and white).
Susan Alyson Stein inMasterpieces of European Painting, 1800–1920, in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2007, pp. 119, 248–49, no. 108, ill. (color and black and white).
Emma House in Emma House and David Ingram. Painting Flowers: Fantin-Latour & the Impressionists. Exh. cat., Bowes Museum. County Durham, 2011, pp. 10, 20 n. 11, as "Spring Flowers, Apples and Pears"; notes that Alphonse Legros may have been responsible for Michael Spartali's finding fault with the four still lifes he commissioned from Fantin-Latour as too similar and that Spartali refused to return them or allow the artist to replace them; states that the painter had difficulty receiving payment from Spartali.