The art of Fantin-Latour is closely linked to that of still lifes with flowers and fruit. Even if this highly ambitious painter created painting manifestoes that are important for the history of art, his clients found his smaller canvases more captivating and led him, quite reluctantly, to give a genre he deemed minor a prominent place in his work.
In 1859, the American painter Whistler, whom Fantin-Latour had met at the Louvre, persuaded the French artist to accompany him to London, where he introduced him to wealthy collectors, including Alexander Constantine Ionides and Edwin Edwards and his wife. The couple soon became friends of the painter and would help him, especially by encouraging him to produce still lifes for the Anglo Saxon market. Prior to 1870, the artist was invited to show his work at the summer exhibitions of the Royal Academy and became a regular member of the Royal Institute, where he made an impression as a painter of indisputable talent. From 1864 to 1896, Fantin-Latour painted almost exclusively still lives, favouring chrysanthemums, roses and peonies for his flower pictures. Fantin-Latour was a great admirer of Courbet and Manet; indeed the influence of these two masters is visible in his still lifes, with their heightened realism and apparent simplicity. Fantin-Latour went beyond the banality of the subject with a deep sincerity and a technical mastery in the depiction of textures that has rarely been equalled.