Frédéric Bazille

Frédéric Bazille was a French painter who helped found the Impressionist movement of the late 19th century, before dying in combat in the Franco-Prussian War.


Synopsis

Frédéric Bazille was born December 6, 1841, in Montpellier, France. He soon left school to pursue art. It was during these formative years that he met fellow painters Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Alfred Sisley, who joined him in founding the Impressionist movement of the late 19th century. In 1870 he joined the infantry after the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War and died in battle.

Profile

Born Jean-Frédéric Bazille on December 6, 1841, in Montpellier, France. Frédéric Bazille was raised in a wealthy family in the South of France and left home in the early 1860s to study medicine in Paris. But his passion for painting overcame the obligation he felt to pursue a proper vocation and, much to his parents’ chagrin, he soon left school to pursue art. It was during these formative years that he met fellow painters Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Alfred Sisley, who would join Bazille in founding the revolutionary Impressionist movement of the late 19th century.
Thanks to his family’s wealth, Frédéric Bazille had a more spacious apartment and studio than most of his artist friends and even supported some of them early in their careers, including Monet and Renoir. His home in the Batignolles neighborhood in Paris became a headquarters for the Impressionists; hence the movement was first called the “Batignolles School.” Bazille’s 1870 work The Artist’s Studio in the Rue de la Condamine showing Renoir, journalist and critic mile Zola, Monet, douard Manet, Bazille, and Edmond Maitre in Bazille’s studio exemplifies this period.
Frédéric Bazille’s best-known work, Family Reunion (1867), was a leading example of what is now known as outdoor figural art. The painting was exhibited at the Salon, France’s exclusive state-run art show, in 1869. Family Reunion showed Bazille’s extended family at their country estate, Méric, and exemplified the artist’s use of color and adept depiction of human figures, both hallmarks of the Realist-Impressionist style. The painting was an example of the challenge that faced all Impressionists: how to reconcile traditional figure painting with an outdoor practice.
Frédéric Bazille’s Summer Scene (Bathers) (1869) transported figure drawings created in his Paris studio to an outdoor setting that included trees, grass and water. The painting depicted young men dressed in swimsuits having a leisurely day along the banks of a river near Méric. Like Family ReunionSummer Scene captured friends and family members in the outdoors and was exhibited at the Salon in 1870.
In 1870, Frédéric Bazille joined the infantry after the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War. He was almost immediately sent to Algeria for combat training and by the end of the year, he was battling in the frontlines. Frédéric Bazille was tragically killed in action in his first battle, on November 28, 1870, at age 29.
Frédéric Bazille never married, and his many intimate relationships with men prompted claims that he was gay. At the time, homosexuality was considered deviant and was almost universally repressed, particularly among the social elite in which his family was firmly rooted. His close friendships included the most celebrated Impressionist artists of all time, including Manet, Monet, Renoir, Sisley, and Berthe Morisot. Were it not for his untimely death, Frédéric Bazille was almost certainly destined to become one of the leaders of the Impressionist revolution.


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