Ignace-Henri Fantin-Latour (French, 1836-1904)
Flying Female Nude, 1871
Black crayon on cream wove paper 12 1/16 in. x 9 3/16 in. (30.64 cm x 23.34 cm)
Crocker Art Museum, Collectors' Guild Purchase2002.13
Fantin-Latour was born in the southeastern French city of Grenoble and first trained with his artist father. At the age of fourteen, he began six years of unconventional study in Paris under Lecoq de Boisbaudran, after which he entered the École des Beaux-Arts. He did not remain for long. His friendship with James McNeill Whistler, whom he met in 1858, proved decisive for his career, gaining him many patrons in England.
Fantin-Latour is best known for his floral still lifes. Often categorized as a Realist, he nonetheless exhibited with the Impressionists Manet, Monet, and Renoir and helped pave the way for the Symbolists, especially in his prints. Having learned to etch from Francis Seymour Haden, whom he had met through Whistler, Fantin-Latour exploited the expressive possibilities of prints in dreamlike compositions, especially in his later years.
This drawing, with its tangle of lively, gestural crayon lines, depicts a reclining male figure, perhaps originally a satyr. He is embraced by one female figure while another rises into the air. A later lithograph, Nuit de printemps (1883), incorporates the sylph-like figure from this drawing.