Lilac (c.1860-1902)

Scholderer, Otto (1834-1902)

Oil on canvas, 50 × 37 cm
National GalleryLondon

This still-life painting depicts five or six stems of lilac in a tall glass vase, set against a two-tone neutral grey background. Flower still lifes enjoyed enormous success in the late nineteenth century, with artists like Henri Fantin-Latour becoming wealthy on their pictures of cut flowers in vases. Such images were admired for their truth to nature and sense of fleeting beauty. Scholderer’s composition, although not his choice of flowers, is very similar to Fantin-Latour’s painting Roses, painted in England in 1864 and on loan to the National Gallery from Tate. Fantin-Latour’s flower paintings helped to make his reputation in Britain and were highly sought-after by British collectors.

A successful painter of portraits and still lifes, Scholderer was born in Frankfurt where he studied at the Städelsches Kunstinstitut. He made frequent trips to Paris and became acquainted with Fantin-Latour and Manet. From 1871 to 1899 he lived in London. This spray of lilacs, which shows off his considerable skill, was bequeathed to the National Gallery by the artist’s son, Dr J.V. Scholderer in 1971, along with Scholderer’s Portrait of the Artist’s Wife. (NG)