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Frédéric Bazille, French Painter


{bah-zee'}, b. Dec. 6, 1841, d. Nov. 28, 1870

Artist Studio, Rue de de la Condomine

The Artist's Studio,
Rue de de la Condomine (1870)
by Frédéric Bazille

Frédéric Bazille was born into a wealthy middle-class Protestant family in Montpellier, France. In 1859, he began studying medicine at the prestigious school in Montpellier; in 1862, he opted to continue his medical studies in Paris. During the same time, Bazille attended painting classes at Atelier Gleyre, where he became acquainted with Claude Monet, Pierre Auguste Renoir and Alfred Sisley. In 1864, he decided to abandon his medical studies in favor of painting.

Bazille became a close friend, colleague, and patron of these early impressionists. He supported Monet financially, and they spent much time painting together en plein-air in the forest of Fontainebleau, Honfleur. Though his style approximated that of Monet, Bazille remained closer to the academic tradition in making preparatory sketches and studies for his larger works, which were, furthermore, often retouched in the studio.

During 1865, Bazille shared a studio with Monet, then with Renoir in 1866. Starting in 1866, Bazille exhibited at the Salon, painting numerous portraits of friends and members of his family in the various studios. In his painting style he was also influenced by Edouard Manet and Gustave Courbet. In 1869, his picture Angler with Nets caused a fierce debate. His quiet clear landscapes and harmonious family scenes in muted colors made him one of the most significant representatives of Early Impressionism.

Bazille Self Portrait

Self Portrait (1865-66)
by Frédéric Bazille

Volunteering into the regular army during the Franco-Prussian War (1870), Bazille was killed in combat at Beaune-la-Rolande. Some scholars feel that his early death prevented him from taking part in the full development of Impressionism in the 1870s.

List of Bazille's best-known works:

  • La Robe rose, (1864), 147x110 cm., Musée d'Orsay, Paris
  • Autoportrait, (1865), 109x72 cm., The Art Institute, Chicago
  • Réunion de Famille, (1867), 152x230 cm., Musée d'Orsay, Paris
  • Le Pécheur à l'épervier, (1868), 134x83 cm., Fondation Rau pour le tiers-monde, Zurich
  • Vue de village, (1868), 130x89 cm., Musée Fabre, Montpellier
  • La Toilette, (1870), 132x127 cm., Musée Fabre, Montpellier
  • L'Atelier de la rue Condamine, (1870), 98x128,5 cm., Musée d'Orsay, Paris
  • Paysage au bord du Lez, (1870), 137,8x202,5 cm., The Minneapolis institute of Art, Minneapolis

Edited by Ian C. Mills
Sources: (1.) Marian Burleigh-Motley, Lecturer, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City; from the Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia, 2000 Grolier Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. (2.) Olga's Gallery web site.
Bibliography: Aleth Jourdan, Frédéric Bazille: Prophet of Impressionism (out-of-print); Diane W. Pitman, Bazille: Purity, Pose, and Painting in the 1860s (1998).


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