Born in Grenoble in 1836, Fantin briefly attended the École des Beaux-Arts. He shared some of the Impressionists’ ideals, but specialised in still lifes and quasi-Symbolist works rather than contemporary subjects. He exhibited regularly at the Salon from 1861 to 1899, mainly submitting still lifes. During the 1860s he produced a series of group portraits of avant-garde writers and artists including Baudelaire, Zola, Manet and Whistler. He also produced a number of imaginative, often mythological scenes inspired by music and opera, particularly the work of Schumann, Berlioz and Wagner. Many of these were reproduced as lithographs and much of his later career was devoted to this medium. Along with his good friend Whistler, he was at the center of the 1890s lithography revival.