Henri Fantin-Latour was a painter of romantic figure subjects, portrait groups and still-life. He received his earliest training from his father, a portrait painter, and in 1850, entered the studio of Lecoq de Boisbaudran. Later, he studied under Courbet at the Ecole des Beaux Arts.
Much of his time was spent copying works in the Louvre, which he sold mostly to American and English clients. It was there he met Manet in 1857 Whistler in 1858 and Victoria Dubourg, his future wife.
Fantin-Latour first exhibited at the Salon in 1861, and continued to contribute works almost annually up until 1876. Amongst his best known paintings, where his group portraits, providing a gallery of prominent personalties including artists, writers and musicians.
In 1859, Whistler persuaded Fantin-Latour to visit England, where he met Edwin Edwards who was to become a life-long friend and patron. In England, he became particularly popular for his still life and flower paintings, notable for the restraint and elegance of their colour and composition. Greatly admired by his contemporaries Jacques Emile Blanche wrote, 'Fantin studied each flower, each petal, its grain, its tissue, as if it were a human face...'
Towards the end of his life, Fantin-Latour became increasingly absorbed in music and developed a passion for Wagner, who inspired his more imaginative works which both in subject and style, show a strong affinity with the Symbolist movement.