At the end of the 19th century, the still life was still considered a minor genre, despite the achievements of Courbet, Manet and even Delacroix. Nevertheless, almost all painters practised it according to their own styles and influences, showing a growing interest in everyday objects and flowers without pomp and circumstance.
From his early days in the 1860s, Henri Fantin-Latour (1836-1904) painted bouquets, which were very popular with his English clientele and became his main source of income.
Still life was an excellent way for Fantin-Latour to perfect his art, to study the relationship between tones and colours. With a keen sense of composition, Fantin-Latour played on the repetition of motifs from one painting to the next (in total we count 160 floral compositions by the artist), on a skilful compromise between balance and imbalance.
This still life "rose in a bowl" bears witness to the artist's sense of observation, capable of rendering colours and textures in all their variety. If the background is neglected, the light is on the other hand treated with the greatest subtlety. Flowers imposed themselves on Henri Fantin-Latour as a favourite motif, which offered him material for pictorial experimentation and great commercial success.
The still life, a genre despised during the second half of the 20th century, was however, during the Belle Époque, a genre highly prized and recognised by the greatest painters, in the tradition of the classical masters. It should be noted that the genre is coming back into fashion today in the most contemporary art, if we think in particular of the bouquets of flowers drawn by a computer program of the pioneer artist Michel Paysant.