Title: Table corner.
Author : FANTIN-LATOUR Henri (1836 - 1904)
Creation date : 1872
Dimensions: Height 160 - Width 225
Technique and other indications: Oil painting on canvas
Storage location: Orsay Museum website
Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - H. Lewandowskisite web
Picture reference: 94DE61416 / RF1959
© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - H. Lewandowski
Publication date: September 2012
This canvas belongs to a series of group portraits painted by Fantin-Latour. She represents men of letters belonging to the Parnassian movement, who founded the avant-garde literary review The literary and artistic renaissance. Critics scornfully described these meetings as “naughty fellows' dinners,” a title they stuck with.
The work is the result of an older project by Fantin-Latour: “L’Anniversaire”, a canvas with which he wanted to celebrate Baudelaire’s memory. The painting succeeds theHomage to Delacroix and to A workshop in Batignolles (both at the Orsay Museum) whose titles unambiguously designate the painted subjects. The title here is more neutral.
It is actually a group of poets gathered around a table at the end of a meal. The sobriety of colors, the variety of attitudes, the subject itself, are part of the tradition of the Dutch collective portrait of the 17th century.e century.
All allusion to Baudelaire has disappeared. From left to right, seated in the foreground, we can make out Verlaine, Rimbaud, Valade, Hervilly, Pelletan; standing in the background, Bonnier, Blémont and Aicard. The composition ends on the right with a bouquet of hydrangeas, in place of the planned portrait of Mérat, who, following a mysterious altercation, had refused to pose next to Rimbaud, a provocative teenager, who arrived in Paris in 1871 and introduced to these meetings by Verlaine.
This image is in fact that of a moment in the history of French literature: the one when the Parnassian movement  (originally a poetic renaissance movement) is running out of steam, where these meetings try in vain to maintain cohesion. of the group and where some, like Verlaine and Rimbaud, become “zutists”, former Parnassians reacting against the growing sclerosis within the movement. Is the neutral title then on the part of the artist a distancing from these models?
- Baudelaire (Charles)
- Verlaine (Paul)
- Rimbaud (Arthur)
Henri Fantin-Latour, exhibition catalog, Paris, RMN, 1982.Claude PICHOIS and Max MILNER, History of French literature, volume VII “From Chateaubriand to Baudelaire”, Paris, Flammarion, collection “Garnier-Flammarion”, 2001. Jean ROUSSELOT, History of French poetry from 1815 to 1939, Paris, PUF, 1996.
1. Born from the lassitude of Romanticism, this literary movement was based on the search for formal perfection and on the cult of "art for the sake of art" advocated by Théophile Gautier.
To cite this article
Nadine FATTOUH-MALVAUD, “Coin de table”