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Frédéric Bazille

The Digital Catalogue Raisonné

by Michel Schulman
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Academy of Woman

Dessin au crayon noir, fusain et estompe sur papier vergé filigrané
62 x 48 cm - 24 7/16 x 18 7/8 in.
Annotation : Daté en haut à droite : 28 février 1863
Collection particulière
Dernière mise à jour : 2022-03-17 19:22:27
Référence : MSb-94


Famille de l'artiste, Montpellier - Collection particulière.


Paris, galerie Wildenstein, 1950, n° 1 - Chicago, The Art Institute of Chicago, 1978, n° 3, repr. p. 35 - Montpellier, Paris, Washington, 2016-2017, cat. 3, repr. p. 218 et fig. 61, repr. p. 113  [Les références sont du catalogue en français].


Sarraute, 1948, Catalogue de l'œuvre de Frédéric Bazille, appendice n° 5 - Daulte, Frédéric Bazille et son temps, 1952, n° 5, p. 193  [Thèse sous la direction de Gaston Poulain] - Marandel, Catalogue exp. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1978, n° 3, repr. p. 34 - Michel, Bazille, 1992, p. 77 - Bajou, Frédéric Bazille, 1993, pp. 28-29 - Schulman, Frédéric Bazille : Catalogue raisonné, 1995, n° 5, repr. p. 237 - Hilaire, Jones, Perrin, Catalogue exp. Montpellier, Paris, Washington, 2016-2017, cat. 3, repr. p. 218 et fig. 61, repr. p. 113 [Les références sont du catalogue en français] - Schulman, Frédéric Bazille : Catalogue raisonné numérique, 2022, n° 94.

This Academy of Woman, is one of Bazille's earliest completed works that we know of. "I started a drawn academy, and I saw with pleasure that there were many students of my strength, or rather of my weakness", he wrote to his mother in a letter dated November 10, 1862. This is a lucid judgement because this academy, however interesting it may be, reveals the weaknesses of a beginner. It is nevertheless interesting because it shows the level of Bazille at the dawn of his artistic life. The position of this woman was difficult to render. The body is not entirely in profile, the face is slightly turned. This is somewhat the opposite of the Academy of Man that he would undertake a few days later. With a strong pencil line that circles the contours, Bazille insists on the shape of this body that gives us, despite the sex, a certain impression of virility. Hence an ambiguity since it contrasts with a face full of feminine softness. Is this a beginner's mistake? Undoubtedly, if one retains other errors like that of the right foot to which the toes seem awkwardly attached, or that of the neck whose articulation is artificially integrated with the rest. Why has the support of the right foot, used for the pose, not been erased? Why were the hands not finished when Bazille undoubtedly wanted to make a finished work? The answer to these questions is not obvious, but one can think that Bazille sometimes had difficulty drawing the figures. This is in any case true for the hands, as can be seen in the Summer Scene and the Young Man Nude Lying.

However, we can measure how far he had come from the first drawings after casts we know of him. In November 1863, the painter wrote to his father: "Last week, Gleyre congratulated me out loud in the studio, which rarely happens to him. I had the idea of drawing the model in natural size on a huge paper, and I had succeeded quite well. This proves that the students of the Gleyre studio had a certain latitude in the interpretation of the subjects.

Studio instruction had several advantages. First, the young students learned to draw, after antique models, immobile and "soulless" objects, then live models that the penniless students were, for the most part, unable to afford. Then came a second stage, with the learning of lines but also of the drawing of real flesh, the application of the molding that gives life to the subject: this  Academy of Woman shows unquestionably that Bazille had reached it.