Portrait of a friend
Henri Fantin-Latour is a quiet, somewhat withdrawn painter with a preference for dreamlike depictions. But due to the lack of demand for that, he paints mainly fruit and flower still lifes, which earn him with a good income and the status of an old master in his later life. He also makes portraits, usually of family or friends, such as Eva Callimachi-Catargi.
He paints her almost life-size as a 19th century ‘grande dame’, characterized more by her stately pose and fine clothing than by an abundance of luxury. The light and the tints in the painting are uniform and sober, but with a few colour accents, in the gleaming gold armband, the fan and the pale pink flower in the bottom right corner. A nice detail is that this flower has the same structure as the frills on Eva’s dress.
This beautiful, subdued portrait was a gift to Helene Kröller-Müller from her husband Anton on their 25th wedding anniversary. She was greatly impressed and wrote that the portrait is ‘inhabited by the wonder of a human soul, the soul of Fantin-Latour’.