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Frédéric Bazille

The Digital Catalogue Raisonné

by Michel Schulman
© Musée Fabre, Montpellier Méditerranée Métropole / photographie Frédéric Jaulmes

Two Herrings

Huile sur toile [Rentoilé en 1947]
41 x 27,5 cm - 16 1/4 x 10 13/ 16 in.
Montpellier, Musée Fabre, France - Inv. 2009.3.2
Dernière mise à jour : 2022-03-29 11:20:43
Référence : MSb-9


Famille de l’artiste - Collection Jean Thuile - Vente Clermont-Ferrand, 31 janvier 2009, n° 230 - Musée Fabre, Montpellier, 2009.


Paris, galerie Wildenstein, 1950, n° 45 - Montpellier, New York, 1992-1993, n° 50, repr. p. 145 - Montpellier, Paris, Washington, 2016-2017, cat. 28, repr. p. 231 et p. 83 [Les références sont du catalogue en français].


Sarraute, Catalogue de l'œuvre de Frédéric Bazille, 1948, n° 53, p. 116 [Thèse de l'Ecole du Louvre non publiée] - Wildenstein, Arts, 9 juin 1950 - Daulte, Bazille et son temps, 1952, n° 31, p. 179 [Thèse sous la direction de Gaston Poulain] - Daulte, Frédéric Bazille : Catalogue raisonné de l'œuvre peint, 1992, n° 34, pp. 167-168 (repr.) [Réédition de 1952 avec photos en couleur] - Jourdan, Vuatone, Cat. exp. Montpellier, New York, 1992-1993, n° 50, repr. p. 145 - Bajou, Frédéric Bazille, 1993, p. 90 (repr.) - Schulman, Frédéric Bazille : Catalogue raisonné, 1995, n° 9, repr. p. 114 - Hilaire, Jones, Perrin, Cat. exp. Montpellier, Paris, Washington, 2016-2017, cat. 28, repr. p. 231 et p. 83 [Les références sont du catalogue en français] - Schulman, Frédéric Bazille : Catalogue raisonné numérique, 2022, n° 9.

This modest still life shows us two bleeding herrings suspended by a string on a wall. The two fishes are ochre and black against a gray background, reminiscent of The Scoter and to the Soup Cover Bowls. The Two Herrings is also not unlike Manet's black tones and technique.

The problem this painting raises is that of its dating. It is generally dated to 1866-1867, but one may rightly wonder whether it was not rather executed at the same time as the Soup Cover Bowls, whose color schemes it takes up.

Sarraute argues, but does not assert, that the Two Herrings would have inspired Charles Cros, a famous fantasist, to write in 1870 Le Hareng saur in the Coffret de Santal, from which we extract this passage, which perhaps concerns Bazille's painting:

At the top of the great white wall, naked, naked, naked,
Tied to the nail the long, long, long string,
And, at the end, the herring saur, dry, dry, dry,

And, ever since, the herring saur, dry, dry, dry,
At the end of that string, long, long, long,
Very slowly swings, ever, ever, ever.

It is not impossible that Cros thought of Bazille's painting but other painters, Millet for example, had also treated this subject.

The theme was then quite common. Bonvin presented, for example, his Harengs sur le gril at the 1866 Salon, n° 282. Not to mention Chardin, who did several versions of it. Among the influences, as the catalogue of the 2016-2017 exhibition points out, "Bazille surely knows Le vendeur de harengs... by the painter Gabriel Metsu from the Valedeau collection bequeathed to the Fabre Museum in 1836." Even if some authors, bringing this work closer to Manet's Asperges, incline to date Bazille's work to around 1866, the date of 1864 seems to us to correspond better to Bazille's mind at that time.