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Frédéric Bazille

The Digital Catalogue Raisonné

by Michel Schulman
© Atlanta, High Museum of Art

Beach at Sainte-Adresse

Huile sur toile
58,4 x 140 cm - 23 x 55 1/8 in.
Signé et daté en bas à gauche : F. Bazille, 1865
Atlanta, The High Museum of Art, Etats-Unis - Inv. 1980.62
Dernière mise à jour : 2022-04-09 21:50:07
Référence : MSb-18


Peint pour son oncle Pomier-Layrargues - Mme Brunel - Pierre Fabre - Wildenstein Gallery, New York - Atlanta, The High Museum of Art, 1980 (Don de la Forward Arts Foundation en mémoire de Frances Floyd Cocke).


Paris, galerie Wildenstein, 1950, n° 15 - Chicago, The Art Institute of Chicago, 1978, n° 17, repr. p. 54 - Los Angeles, Chicago, Paris, 1984-1985, L’impressionnisme et le paysage français, n° 4, repr. coul. p. 52 - Manchester, The Currier Gallery of Art; New York, IBM Gallery of Science and Art; Dallas Museum of Art; Atlanta, High Museum of Art, 1991, The Rise of Landscape Painting in France. Corot to Monet, n° 1, repr. coul. p. 101 - New York, Wildenstein Gallery, 1985, Paris Cafés - Montpellier, New York, 1992-1993, n° 9, repr. p. 88 - Paris, Grand Palais, 1994, Impressionnisme. Les origines 1859-1874, n° 2, p. 329, repr. p. 80 - New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1994-1995, The Origins of Impressionism [Les références sont du catalogue en français] - Atlanta, High Museum, 1999, n° 1, repr. p. 12 - Paris, musée Marmottan Monet, 2003-2004, cat. 9, repr. p. 27 - Montpellier, Paris, Washington, 2016-2017, n° 22, repr. p. 229  et pp. 54-55 [Les références sont du catalogue en français].


Poulain, Bazille et ses amis, 1932, n° 3, pp. 52, 211 - Sarraute, Catalogue de l'œuvre de Frédéric Bazille, 1948, n° 9, p. 17 [Thèse de l'Ecole du Louvre non publiée] - Daulte, Bazille et son temps, 1952, p. 172, n° 15/1 (repr.) [Thèse sous la direction de Gaston Poulain] - Isaacson, Monet. Le Déjeuner sur l'herbe, 1972, n° 13, pp. 98-99 - Rewald, Histoire de l'Impressionnisme, 1973, p. 110 (repr.) [Réédition de 1946] - Champa, Studies in Early Impressionism, 1973, p. 85, fig. 115 - Marandel, Catalogue exp. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1978, n° 17, repr. p. 56 - Schulze, Art in America, sept-oct. 1978, pp. 100-103 (repr.) - Atlanta, High Museum of Art, 1981, Selected Works, p. 16 (repr.) - Gazette des Beaux-Arts, mars 1981, n° 216, p. 39 (repr.) - Wildenstein, Gazette des Beaux-Arts, avril 1985, pp. 3-4 - Bernier, New York, 1985, Paris Cafés, p. 40 (repr.) - Daulte, Frédéric Bazille : Catalogue raisonné de l'œuvre peint,  1992, p. 28 (repr. coul.) et p. 160, n° 17 (repr.) [Réédition de 1952 avec photos en couleur] - Jourdan, Vuatone, Catalogue exp. Montpellier, New York, 1992-1993, n° 9,  p. 88 - Bajou, 1993, Frédéric Bazille, p. 77 (repr.) - Schulman, Frédéric Bazille :  Catalogue raisonné, 1995, n° 18, repr. p. 130 - Pitman, Bazille : Purity, Pose and Painting in the 1860s, 1998, pp. 77, 133 - Hilaire, Jones, Perrin, Catalogue exp. Montpellier, Paris, Washington, 2016-2017, n° 22, repr. p. 229 et pp. 54-55 [Les références sont du catalogue en français] - Schulman, Frédéric Bazille : Catalogue raisonné numérique, 2022, n° 18.

On August 18, 1865, Bazille wrote to his mother: "At last I will have finished my uncle's paintings tomorrow morning. These are the Beach at Sainte-Adresse and the Landscape at Saint-Sauveur. We do not know how the subjects were chosen. The identical dimensions of the two paintings suggest their purpose - door tops - which Monet confirms in his letter of May 4, 1865: "You should take advantage of the fine days. There are quite enough bad ones during which you work in the room on your panels". Bazille was more than seduced by the landscape, having only known the light of the Midi and Ile-de-France. He confided in his mother: "The landscape is a paradise... I paint all day from five in the morning to eight in the evening" [Letter to his mother, June 1, 1864]. Bazille was dissatisfied with his paintings: "I have started them all over again since my last letter", he said, "I had previously done a mass of details which, given the distance at which they were to be seen, had a very bad effect. An indication that confirms the destination of these works.

Plage à Sainte-Adresse, Claude Monet, 1864, The Minneapolis Institute of Arts
Plage à Sainte-Adresse, Claude Monet, 1864, The Minneapolis Institute of Arts
How was the Beach at Sainte-Adresse executed? There is some controversy about this, with some assuring that it was undertaken in 1864 during Bazille's trip to Honfleur, and others asserting that Bazille would have taken Monet's painting Plage à Sainte-Adresse as his model [The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 1864]. The latter hypothesis is very likely, for the Beach at Sainte-Adresse could well be the one of the two paintings that, on May 5, 1865, Bazille said he had begun. Marandel wonders, nevertheless, if Bazille did not do it on the motif in 1864 in order to complete it or finish it in the studio the following year. In any case, in addition to its intrinsic interest, Bazille's painting is close to Monet's, since both men painted the same landscape, seen from the same place. The two works differ, however, in size. By taking a much larger canvas, Bazille expanded the scope of his subject and gave more room to the sea. He added several boats - which he arranged differently than Monet's - and a fisherman on the left side of the painting. Some other details differ, such as the boards in the foreground. As for the landscape, it appears closer in Monet than in Bazille.

Another, far more interesting difference concerns the techniques and tones employed. For Poulain, "the cold tone, the meticulous writing of these panels on which he toiled denounce the beginner not yet able to create in a studio, landscapes noticed a few months earlier" [Poulain, 1932, p. 52]. Here we feel a lack of certainty in Bazille, which prompts us to say with Schulze, that "Monet's painting is superior, more sensitive to gradations of light, atmosphere, and water, more precise in assigning tonal intensities to these elements" [Schulze, Art in America, Sept.-Oct. 1978, p. 102].

Various scholars have attempted to compare the two paintings and explain their chronological and aesthetic hierarchy. As Jones attempts to do in his article in the 2016-2017 exhibition catalogue [Jones, p. 33], Bazille is said to have painted his picture "as a tribute to the memory [he] has of Normandy with Monet". This is, after all, a logical hypothesis in view of their relationship. The fact remains that Bazille wanted to create a work with variations that differed from those of Monet. Is there a psychological explanation for this? Even if Bazille wanted to imitate Monet with an identical subject, he frees himself from it by certain details which, according to us, are important. And we can rightly wonder what Bazille and Monet might have said to each other to explain their differences.