Henri Fantin-Latour (French, 1836–1904)
Scene from Oberon, 7 January 1869
Oil on canvas, 12 3/4 x 9 1/2 in.
Signed, bottom center: Fantin; dated upper left: 7 Janvier 69
Even though he is often identified with the Impressionists, Fantin-Latour never painted outdoors, preferring literary subjects, still lifes, and portraits painted in his studio. He also made many paintings and prints representing dreamlike visions, thus paving the way for the Symbolist movement. Reminiscent of his better-known compositions inspired by Richard Wagner’s operas, this painting presents a scene from Carl Maria von Weber’s (1786–1826) operaOberon, or The Elf King’s Oath, which premiered in London in 1826. Fantin-Latour chose the moment when the knight Huon of Bordeaux falls in love with Reiza, the daughter of the Caliph of Baghdad, who first appears to him in a dream. This painting once belonged to Roger Marx (1859–1913), an important French critic and collector. He organized the Paris Exposition Universelle in 1889, and was a great champion of avant-garde artists such as Paul Cézanne (1839–1906).