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Frédéric Bazille

The Digital Catalogue Raisonné

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

Portrait of Aphonse Tissié in a Cavalryman's Uniform

Huile sur toile
61,5 x 50,5 cm - 24 1/4 x 20 in .
Montpellier, Musée Fabre, France - Inv. 18.3.1
Dernière mise à jour : 2022-02-27 09:12:43
Référence : MSb-51


Don de Frédéric Bazille à Alphonse Tissié - Don d’Alphonse Tissié au musée Fabre en 1918.


Montpellier, Exposition internationale, 1927, Rétrospective Bazille, n° 22 - Montpellier, musée Fabre, 1941, n° 32 - Paris, galerie Wildenstein, 1950, n° 44 bis - Stockholm, National Museum, 1958, Cinq siècles d’art français, n° 157 - Montpellier, musée Fabre, 1959, n° 32 - Montpellier, musée Fabre, 1970-1971, Hommage à Frédéric Bazille [s.n.] - Chicago, The Art Institute of Chicago, 1978, n° 39, repr. p. 88 - Montpellier, musée Fabre, 1991-1992, 150e anniversaire de Frédéric Bazille, fig. 18, p. 20 - Montpellier, New York, 1992-1993, n° 45, repr. p. 140 - Montpellier, musée Fabre, 2001 [s.n.] - Paris, musée Marmottan Monet, 2003-2004, cat. 19, repr. p. 57 - Lausanne, Fondation de l'Hermitage, 2006, n° 8 - Montpellier, Paris, Washington, 2016-2017, cat. 50, repr. p. 246  et p. 209 [Les références sont du catalogue en français].


Joubin, Catalogue des peintures et sculptures du musée Fabre, 1926, n° 363 - Poulain, Bazille et ses amis, 1932, n° 37, pp. 167, 218 - Gillet, Le Trésor des musées de province : le musée de Montpellier, 1935, p. 241 - Claparède, Languedoc méditerranéen et Roussillon d'hier et d'aujourd'hui, 1947, p. 237 - Prinçay, Cahiers du sud, 1947, p. 869 - Sarraute, Catalogue de l'oeuvre de Frédéric Bazille, 1948, n° 32, pp. 75-76 [Thèse de l'Ecole du Louvre non publiée] - Daulte, Arts, 9 juin 1950 - Claparède, Réforme, 24 juin 1950 - Daulte, Bazille et son temps, 1952, pp. 77-78, 142, 150 et n° 39, p. 182 (repr.) - Marandel, Catalogue exp. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1978, n° 39, repr. p. 88 - Daulte, Frédéric Bazille : Catalogue raisonné de l'œuvre peint, 1992, pp. 78, 134, 145, pp. 171-172, n° 42 (repr.) [Réédition de 1952 avec photos en couleur] - Vuatone, Catalogue exp. Montpellier, New York, 1992-1993, n° 45, p. 140 - Bajou, Frédéric Bazille, 1993, p. 156 (repr.) - Schulman, Frédéric Bazille : Catalogue raisonné, 1995, n° 51, repr. p. 193 - Hilaire, Catalogue exp. Lausanne, Fondation de l'Hermitage, 2006, n° 8 - Hilaire, Jones, Perrin, Catalogue exp. Montpellier, Paris, Washington, 2016-2017, cat. 50, repr. p. 246 et p. 209 [Les références sont du catalogue en français]. - Schulman, Frédéric Bazille : Catalogue raisonné numérique, 2022, n° 51.

In the gallery of portraits that Bazille made during that year of 1869, the Portrait of Alphonse Tissié in a Cavalryman's Uniform is certainly one of the most beautiful.

Alphonse Tissié, brother of Bazille's sister-in-law Suzanne, is painted in a three-quarter bust, facing left, and wearing a cuirassier uniform.

He was, according to Mrs Gaston Bazille, very proud of his uniform: "Alphonse Tissié has been here for 4 days, enchanted, delighted, of incredible spirit, she wrote to her son in January 1866. He goes around the city in his uniform that everyone looks at with an astonished look. It fits him perfectly. The fact is that he looks very good and the suit is pretty".

Alphonse Tissié in a cavalryman's uniform
Alphonse Tissié in a cavalryman's uniform
This portrait may be compared with another one, unpublished, of Alphonse Tissié that we reproduce here as a document. In it he also appears as a cuirassier, but this time in field uniform. He is seen from the front; we recognize him with his moustache and his fine features. In Bazille's painting, his uniform shines with its red epaulets and its helmet that reflects the light. It is more than a simple portrait, for it is the gamble of color that counts above all, the contrast between the reds, ochres and deep blacks "à la Manet". Bazille uses blacks to give relief to these bright colors that he accentuates with large, broad and nervous strokes. "The dark uniform and silver helmet of the dragoon make the reds of the cheeks and shoulder pads sing", writes Daulte [Daulte, 1992, p. 134]. The visor of the helmet hides Tissié's eyes, which gives him a martial and enigmatic air. All these colors burst on an ochre background, largely brushed, which makes one believe that the painting is unfinished. But is it really? Didn't Bazille deliberately follow Manet's example? Prinçay states that this painting is a reminiscence of his manner. However, he says, one detects in the Portrait of Alphonse Tissié "more application, less freedom. Bazille does not have the sovereign ease of his elder who, drawing with color, coloring with spots and reflections, has solved as if playing and facing the easel almost all the problems of painting, and invented to this language new means of expression, with a mastery that never leaves an air of improvisation" [Prinçay, Cahiers du sud, 2nd semester 1947, p. 869].

Is this portrait an improvised or finished work? For Perrin, "This air of improvisation that comes from Manet allow us to think that the Portrait of Tissié is indeed a finished work" [Perrin, Exhibition catalogue 2016-2017, p. 247]. A difficult hypothesis to confirm, but is this question so important knowing that the Portrait of Renoir and the Portrait of Verlaine are works that are more sketched than finished? It is precisely here that Bazille probably best expresses his talent.