Frédéric Bazille

Frédéric Bazille
Born December 6, 1841
Montpellier, Hérault, Languedoc-Roussillon, France
Died November 28, 1870
Nationality French
Field Painting
Works View Complete Works

Frédéric Bazille (1841-1870) was a French painter who was among the first Impressionists and who was particularly noted for his figure paintings. In these, the subject of the work would be depicted in the midst of a natural landscape. Like other Impressionists, Bazille would paint these scenes in the open air in order to capture the look and feel of natural daylight.

Personal Life

Bazille was born in the city of Montpellier, on the Mediterranean coast. His family was rich wine-makers, allowing the young Frédéric the opportunity to learn his craft at an early age. However, his parents preferred that he would go into the field of medicine, permitting him to study painting only if he agreed to do both. After a few years of medical education, in 1862, Bazille moved to Paris, where he spent his short adult life. He died before the age of 30 as a result of injuries sustained during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870.

Major Works

Despite his short life, Bazille produced several important paintings. Just two years after moving to the French capital, and when still only 23, he created The Pink Dress, a back-view portrait of one of the his female cousins. The painting is notable for the contrast between the shade in which the subject sits and the bright sunshine which lights the rest of the scene. A few years later, Bazille painted Family Reunion, a depiction of a somewhat formal outdoor gathering, which remains his most famous work and, again, is noted for its use of light and shadow.

Art Style

Although Bazille was very much a member of the Impressionist movement, with its emphasis on the use of varying light levels and everyday subjects such as simple portraits, his most famous paintings were relatively straightforward in their style. He was particularly interested in the effect of light on human skin, and this plays an important role in most of his paintings. Bazille’s portrayal of an artist’s salon, Studio in the Rue de Furstenberg, lacks some elements (such as an unusual angle of view) that featured in many later Impressionists’ works.