The Bowes Museum > Exhibitions > 2011 > Painting Flowers: Fantin-Latour and the Impressionists

Painting Flowers: Fantin-Latour and the Impressionists


Flower power was the theme running through the first large scale show in Britain to celebrate the still life paintings of Henri Fantin-Latour.

Although the artist’s name might not be the first to trip off everyone’s tongue when reflecting on 19th Century greats, he was nevertheless up there with the finest, including Manet, who was a witness at his wedding, and Whistler, who introduced him to London’s artistic and intellectual society.

Painting Flowers: Fantin-Latour & the Impressionists, showcased around 30 of his works, alongside paintings by Renoir, Courbet, and Fantin-Latour’s wife Victoria Dubourg, among others.

From the 1860s, Fantin-Latour began developing his powers of observation, experimenting with colour, texture, form and composition in his still life paintings. Yet while still life painting grew in popularity among artists of the period, it was strongly resisted by the establishment.

Invited to London by Whistler, Fantin-Latour was introduced to Edwin Edwards and his wife, Ruth, who bought many of his still life paintings in the years that followed. They trumpeted his work among their circle and helped him develop a rich base of patrons in England, eventually acting as his agents.

In 1876 Fantin-Latour and his wife spent their first summer at Buré in France, a house inherited from her uncle. The provincial garden there provided an abundance of blooms from which both artists were inspired to create endless floral compositions.

The expansion of mail order horticulture in France during that time offered the domestic gardener access to a growing selection of plants, and provided Fantin-Latour with an ever increasing choice of subject matter. Botanist David Ingram explores his work, identifying many of the new and exciting varieties and hybrids that were available to the artist.

Fantin-Latour continued to refine his skills in representing textures and the tactile qualities of flowers, the delicate nature of their blooms and the structure of their stems. So admired did he become for his ability as a painter of roses that a fragrant pink Centifolia rose was named in tribute to him.


The Bowes Museum grounds are open!


Due to the government announcement on Thursday 17 December, that County Durham is to remain in COVID tier 3 restrictions, The Bowes Museum unfortunately will remain closed to all visitors. However, the grounds remain open to visitors from 10.00 - 4.00 daily, and we are currently hosting a woodland fairy trail, two spring trails and outdoor guided tours are available from 29 March 2021.

As we have already been shut for a number of weeks and there is much uncertainty around possible further restrictions, we have decided to use this period to undertake some work in Café Bowes, alongside performing some much-needed structural repairs to the building, notably to the windows. January and February are usually quieter times for the Museum, often due to severe weather, so we believe that this is the best time to carry out such works with the least amount of disruption to our visitors.

We have therefore decided to remain closed for a period of four weeks following any near-future tier 2 announcement from the government, as this will allow us time to deep clean the Museum prior to reopening our doors once again. We will, of course, keep you updated as the guidelines change.

Your ongoing support during these unprecedented times is hugely appreciated and we very much look forward to welcoming you back into the building as early as possible in 2021.

We hope to be able to offer a few COVID-safe outdoor events over the coming months, about which we shall make further announcements as soon as possible.