Frédéric Bazille

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portray of Fréderic Bazille, painted by Renoir, 1867, oil on canvas; - quote about Bazille by Renoir, 1870: '..that pure-hearted gentle knight'

Jean Frédéric Bazille (December 6, 1841 – November 28, 1870) was a French Impressionist painter. Many of Bazille's major works are examples of figure painting. Close friends were Claude Monet, Alfred Sisley, and Édouard Manet. Bazille was generous with his wealth, and helped support his less fortunate associates by giving them space in his studio and painting materials to use. He died young as French soldier in the Franco-Prussian War.

Quotes of Fréderic Bazille[edit]

chronologically arranged, after the date of Bazille's quotes
Bazille, 1865: 'Paysage à Chailly', oil on canvas; - quote of Bazille: 'This country [around Honfleur is paradise. Nowhere could you find more lush fields with more beautiful trees. Cows and horses roam freely everywhere'
Bazille, 1866-67: 'Selfportrait', oil on canvas
Bazille, 1866/67: 'The Little Gardener'
Bazille, 1868: 'View of the Village', oil on canvas; - quote by Berthe Morisot in a letter to her sister Edma: '..a young girl in a very light dress.. .He is trying to do what we have so often tried to bring off: to paint a figure in the outdoor light'
Bazille, 1869: 'Summer Scene / The Bathers', 1869, oil-painting on canvas; - quote by art-critic Zacharie Astruc: 'Bazille sets up his easel in direct sunlight to paint under the magical effects of daylight. There is an abyss between old and new.. ..an amazing comprehension of light.. .Sun floods his canvases.. ..the meadow is as though on fire. It is happy, it sings and plays. The eye feasts.'
Bazille, 1869-1870: 'La Toilette', oil-painting on canvas
Bazille, 1870: 'A Studio at Les Batignolles', oil on canvas; - quote of Bazille, 1870: 'I've been amusing myself recently painting the interior of my studio with my friends. Manet is helping me with it [Manet painted Bazille, in front of the easel]..'
Renoir's painting of 'Bazille's Studio', 1870, oil on canvas
An impression of some paintings in the oil-painting 'Bazille's Studio', painted by Renoir in 1870; Quote of Renoir, after the death of Bazille, late in 1870: '[Bazille had not died] romantically, galloping over a Delacroix' battlefield.. ..but stupidly, during the retreat, on a muddy road.'
Bazille, August 1870: 'Paysage au bord du Lez', oil on canvas; - quote of Bazille, 2 Aug.: '..I am completely alone on the country.. ..this solitude pleases me enormously; it makes me work a lot and read a lot' (some days later Bazille joined the army

1861 - 1865[edit]

  • The big classical compositions are finished; an ordinary view of daily life would be much more interesting.
    • Quote by Jean Renoir, in: Renoir my father, p. 96; as quoted in The private lives of the Impressionists, Sue Roe, Harpen Collins Publishers, New York 2006, p. 24
    • a remark of Bazille, in the winter of 1862 – 63 during a walk with Renoir
    • the two painters passed a crying baby while its nurse was flirting with a soldier
  • Certain parts of the forest [the forest Bas Bréau, near Barbizon ] are truly wonderful. We can't even imagine such oak trees in Montpellier.
    • In: Frédéric Bazille and early Impressionism, Marandel; Daulte et al. p. 155
    • Bazille's quote refers to travelling and painting together landscape in-open-air with Monet, Pisarro and Renoir, all students of the Paris art-teacher w:Charles Gleyre.
  • This country [landscape around Honfleur, where Bazille was painting with Monet, circa 1864] is paradise. Nowhere could you find more lush fields with more beautiful trees. Cows and horses roam freely everywhere.
    • Quote from Bazille's letter to his mother, c. 1864; as quoted in Frédéric Bazille and early Impressionism, Marandel, Daulte et al. p. 166
  • I have begun one of the pictures of my uncle, which would be finished in the most, two weeks, if only I were able to go to Fontainebleau [probably because Manet urged him to pose for his [[w:Le Déjeuner sur l'herbe|'Déjeuner sur l'herbe'] to do some needed studies. In any case neither will be finished before next August. I am taking great pains with them and I hope my uncle will be very pleased.
    • Quote from Bazille's letter to his mother, 5 May 1865; as cited in Impressionnism, Gary Tinterow, Henri Loyrette; Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1994, p. 329
  • Finally.. ..I will have finished the paintings for my uncle. I have completely reworked them since my last letter [to his mother, 5 May 1865]; originally I had included a mass of details, which, from the distance they were intended to be viewed, had a very bad effect. I have worked at breakneck speed for two weeks, and now I am rather pleased, at least with one of them.
    • Quote from Bazille's letter to his mother, c. 18/25 August, 1865; as cited in Impressionnism, Gary Tinterow, Henri Loyrette; Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1994, p. 329
  • [ Monet is] ..hard at work for some time now. His paintings has really progressed, I'm sure it will attract a lot of attention. He has sold thousands of franc's worth of paintings in the last few days, and has one or two other small commissions. He's definitely on his way.
    • Quote of Bazille in a letter to his brother, December 1865; as cited in The private lives of the Impressionists, Sue Roe, Harpen Collins Publishers, New York 2006, p. 43

1866 - 1870[edit]

  • Don't worry! I bring to it all the necessary objectivity, don't be alarmed.. ..dirty machinists, very dumb musicians, a very old [choreographer] Monsieur Auber, and everyone only thinks about getting her job done as quickly as possible to earn a living.
    • about a 'backstage-scene' of the Paris Opera, from his letter to Bazille's mother c. 1866; as cited in The private lives of the Impressionists, Sue Roe, Harpen Collins Publishers, New York 2006, p. 49
  • If I did not know how unhappy you [ Monet, his friend] are, I certainly would not take the trouble to respond to the letter that reached me this morning. You try to demonstrate to me that I don't keep my promises, but you have only succeeded in proving to me your ingratitude. As far as I know I had never had the air to give you charity. I know to the contrary, better than everyone, the value of the painting that I have purchased [ Monet's painting 'Women in the garden' purchased by Bazille] and I very much regret not being wealthy enough to offer you better conditions. (WPJ 15)
    • quote from Bazille's letter to his friend Monet, 2 Jan. 1867; as cited in Monet and His Muse: Camille Monet in the Artist's Life, Mary Mathews Gedo; University of Chicago Press, 2010, p 72
    • Monet accused Bazille of cheating with the price of his painting
  • Monet has popped up out of nowhere with a collection of magnificent canvases.. .With Renoir, that makes two hard-up painters I am putting up. It's quite an infirmary here.
  • In a letter to his mother, February 1867; as quoted in Michel Schulmann, Frédéric Bazille, 1841-1870, Catalogue raisonné: peintures, dessins, pastels, aquarelles; sa vie, son oeuvre, sa correspondence, Paris, 1995, p. 354
  • The sun allowed me only four days of work. Today it is beautiful and I am about to go out.. .I have begun three or four landscapes of the area around Aigues-Mortes. In my large canvas 'The Ramparts at Aigues-Mortes', I am going to do the walls of the city, reflected in a pond at sunset. This will be a very simple painting, which should not take long to do. Nevertheless I would need at least eight beautiful days. I hope that everything will be finished by the 12th [of June, 1867]
    • Quote in Bazille's letter to his mother, End of May, 1867; as cited in Impressionnism, Gary Tinterow, Henri Loyrette; Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1994, p. 332
  • I've extended my hospitality to one of my friends, a former student of Gleyre's, who lacks a studio at the moment. Renoir, that's his name, is a real worker, he takes advantage of my models and helps me pay for them.
    • In a letter to his parents, c. 1868; as quoted in Frédéric Bazille, Prophet of Impressionism (exhibition catalogue), Brooklyn Museum of Art, Brooklyn & Dixon Gallery, Memphis, 1992-93, p. 38
    • Renoir would move in with Bazille around 1868, and Bazille's letter is only one example of his charitable nature
  • It is really too ridiculous for a reasonably intelligent person to expose himself to this kind of administrative caprice.
    • quote, c. 1869; in: Frédéric Bazille and early Impressionism, Marandel, Daulte et al. p. 179-180
    • Bazille meant the official yearly Paris Salon which excluded and refused many artists of the circle of the Impressionists; in 1869 an attempt to reinstate the Salon des Refusés was in progress; and even the older painters like Daubigny, Corot, Courbet, Diaz promised their support and to contribute their art in the alternative Salon
  • My friends have given me all sort of compliments on my painting [probably 'Scene d'Été'.] Nevertheless it would not be surprising if it were rejected or at least badly placed [on the Paris Salon ]. I started another ['La Toilette / The Toilette' ] which I think will be accepted; it is however very difficult to do. There are three women, one of whom is entirely nude, another nearly so. I have found a ravishing model who is going to cost me an arm and a leg: 10 francs a day plus bus fare for her and for her mother who accompanies her.
    • Quote in Bazille's letter to his mother, shortly after January 1870; as cited in Impressionism, Gary Tinterow, Henri Loyrette; Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1994, pp. 337-338
  • I've been amusing myself recently painting the interior of my studio with my friends. Manet is helping me with it [Manet painted Bazille, in front of the easel], and I may send it to the exhibition in Montpellier. This painting has delayed the one ['Scène d'Été'] I am going to do for the [Paris] Salon, but I am working hard and it won't take very long to complete
    • In a letter to his father, 1 January 1870; in 'Bazille 1992, No. 127, transl. Paula Prokopoff-Giannini, Chicago 1978, p. 182; as quoted in Impressionnism, Gary Tinterow, Henri Loyrette; Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1994, p. 336
  • I have started a large landscape which is beginning to take shape.
    • Quote in Bazille's letter to his father, June 1870; as cited in Impressionnism, Gary Tinterow, Henri Loyrette; Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1994, p. 338
  • I have almost finished a large landscape [painting 'Landscape by the Lez River' - [around Montpellier].. ..I am completely alone on the country; my cousins and my brother are at the resort. My father and mother are living in town; this solitude pleases me enormously; it makes me work a lot and read a lot.
    • In a letter to fr:Edmond Maitre, 2 August 1870; as quoted in Impressionnism, Gary Tinterow, Henri Loyrette; Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1994, p. 338
    • this work is Bazille's last painting and largest known landscape; he started it c. June 1870 and finished it 2 August, just before he left 16 August 1870, to join the third regiment of Zouaves; he died soon
  • I have no intention of being killed, there's too much I still want to do with my life.
    • In: Les Impressionists autour de Paris: tableau de banlieu avec peintres, ed. Jean-Michel Puydebat – SEM Chateau d’Auvers, 1993, p. 16
    • Quote from a late letter of Bazille he wrote in 1870, shortly before he died in the Franco-Prussian War; Bazille joined General de Barrail's staff

Quotes, undated[edit]

Quotes about Frédéric Bazille[edit]

  • My dear Bazille, I ask myself what you can be doing in Paris during fine weather, for I suppose that it must also be very fine there. Here [in Honfleur, Normandy], my dear fellow, it is charming, and I discover every day always beautiful things. It is enough to become mad [fou], so much do I have the desire to do it all, my head is cracking. Damn it, here it is the sixteenth, put aside your cliques and your claques, and come spend a couple of weeks here, it would be the best thing that you could do, because in Paris it cannot be very easy to work.. ..Are you making any progress? Yes, I am sure of it, but what I am sure of is that you do not work enough and not in the right way. It is not with carefree guys like your Villa and others that you will be able to work. It would be better all alone, and yet, all alone there are plenty of things that one cannot make out.
    • Quote of Claude Monet, in his letter to Frédéric Bazille from w:Honfleur, July 15, 1864; as quoted in Mary M. Gedo (2013) Psychoanalytic Perspectives on Art. p. 114-15
  • The tall fellow Bazille has done something I find quite fine [ in his exhibited painting 'View of the Village':] a young girl in a very light dress in the shadow of a tree beyond which one sees a town. There is a good deal of light, sunlight, He is trying to do what we [Berthe Morisot and her sister Edma both painted] have so often tried to bring off: to paint a figure in the open air [in the outdoor light]. This time I think he has succeed.
    • Quote of Berthe Morisot, in a letter to her sister Edma, 1869; as quoted in The history of Impressionism by John Rewald, (Fourth edition), Museum of Modern Art, 1974, New York p. 643
    • a remark to her sister Edma Morisot, after Berthe's visit to the Salon of Paris in 1869
  • I like that [Bazille's painting 'View of the Village', 1868] very much. Certainly it is original and new, very new.. .A young lady, dressed in white and hat-less is seated in the shade on a knoll, at the very bottom of the painting. She looks at you with an expression all the more vacuous because it scarcely accounts for a nuance of shy uneasiness.. .One hesitates at first between qualifying the work as eccentric or as naive. In the end one must recognize that all the boldness of composition and colour is absolutely true. The perspective, above all, particularly difficult, is as exact as seen through the lens of a 'camera lucida' or in a photograph. The color and effect.. ..equally impose themselves by their healthy sincerity.
    • Quote of J. Ixe, 1869; in 'Les artists Montpelliérains aux Salon de Paris, 1869', in 'Journal de Monpellier', 12 June 1869; reprinted in Montpellier 1992, p. 17 (transl. Gary Tinterow)
  • Bazille sets up his easel in direct sunlight to paint under the magical effects of daylight [in Bazille's painting: 'Scene d'Été', 1869]. There is an abyss between old and new.. ..the old feeling that captivated us in the work of the masters.. ..is here again, the figure lives in a breath-able air.. .Bazille has already mastered one element, an amazing comprehension of light, the particular impression of the open air, the power of daylight. Sun floods his canvases. In 'Baigneurs' [official title now: 'Scene d'Été'] the meadow is as though on fire. It is happy, it sings and plays. The eye feasts. We shall notice finesse in the shades of flesh, the two small wrestlers in the sun, and the man dressing near the trees, in the comforting heat of a beautiful summer afternoon.
    • Quote of Zacharie Astruc, in 'Le Salon de 1870', in 'L'Echo des Beaux Arts', 12 June 1870, pp. 2-3; reprinted in Pitman, 1989, pp. 102-03 (transl. Gary Tinterow)
  • [Bazille had not died] romantically, galloping over a Delacroix' battlefield.. ..but stupidly, during the retreat, on a muddy road.
    • Quote of Pierre-Auguste Renoir, in Renoir, my Father, Jean Renoir; p. 124; as quoted in The private lives of the Impressionists, Sue Roe, Harpen Collins Publishers, New York 2006, p. 83
  • ..that pure-hearted gentle knight. [after Bazille's death, 1870]
    • short quote of Pierre-Auguste Renoir, in Renoir, my Father, Jean Renoir; p. 125; as quoted in The private lives of the Impressionists, Sue Roe, Harpen Collins Publishers, New York 2006, p. 94
  • the oeuvre of Frédéric Bazille is unclassifiable.
    • quote of Henri Fantin-Latour; as quoted by Aleth Jourdan, Jean-Patrice Marandel, Dianne W. Pitman, et al., Frédéric Bazille: Prophet of Impressionism, exh. catalog; Brooklyn Museum, New York 1992, p. 15
  • He belongs.. ..,not as a talented beginner but as a master, to this history of the rebirth of French painting which restores the link between man, nature and light.. .He bears in his soul and in his art, mixed to his delicious charm and his painterly audacity, a sort of severe quality, a pride of retained youth he might hold from his protestant education.

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