Robert Brough

Fantaisie en Folie


On display at Tate Britain

Oil paint on canvas
Support: 1022 x 1257 mm
frame: 1330 x 1585 x 125 mm
Bequeathed by the artist 1905

Display caption

The title means ‘fantasy in madness’ and refers to the reflective mood of the subject. The sitter holds out the pendant of her necklace towards a ceramic Buddha, as if to compare East and West. ‘Fantaisie’ is also used as the title of a piece of music, suggesting a certain mood, rather than telling a story. The picture was an international success, and by 1904 had been exhibited in Munich, Vienna, Paris, Glasgow and St Louis. However, it was not exhibited again until 1993. Brough, a Scottish portrait painter, died young and his work is little known today.

Gallery label, November 2016

Catalogue entry

N01956 FANTASIE EN FOLIE c. 1897
Not inscribed.
Canvas, 40 1/4×49 1/2 (102×126).
Bequeathed by the artist 1905.
Exh: R.A., 1897 (138); R.S.A., 1898 (419); Autumn Exhibition, Manchester, 1899 (147); Exposition Internationale Universelie, Paris, 1900 (British Pavilion, 28); (?) St Petersburg, c. 1900 (catalogue not traced); International Exhibition, Glasgow, 1901 (518); Preston Guild Art Exhibition, Preston, 1902 (15).
Lit: Edward Pinnington, ‘Robert Brough, Painter’ in Art Journal, 1898, p.148, repr. p.147.
Repr: Tate Gallery, Illustrated Catalogue, 1912, p.8.

The composition is close to, and is probably derived from, that of ‘The Present’ by the Belgian artist Alfred Stevens (National Gallery, London, NG3270) which was shown in an exhibition the previous year, Loan Collection of Modern Painters, Grafton Galleries, January–March 1896 (158). Another almost contemporary work by Brough, ‘Sweet Violets’, exhibited at Glasgow in 1897, is also similar in composition but in reverse.

Published in:
Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, London 1964, I


Forgotten Faces

Forgotten Faces comprises seventeen portraits or figure paintings and three sculptures ranging between 1896 – a year before the foundation of ...