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Frédéric Bazille

The Digital Catalogue Raisonné

by Michel Schulman
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Potted Flowers

Huile sur toile
100,3 x 80,7 cm - 39 1/2 x 31 3/4 in.
Signé et daté en bas à gauche : F. Bazille 66
Collection particulière
Dernière mise à jour : 2022-11-03 18:51:30
Référence : MSb-24


Peint pour la famille Lejosne, Paris - Famille Lejosne, Pau, circa 1932 - F. Shöni, Zurich, circa 1952 - Collection John Hay Whitney, New York, 1960 - Betsey Withney Cushing, 1982 - Greentree Foundation, New York,  1998 - Vente Sotheby's, New York, 5 mai 2004, n° 17 - Collection particulière - Vente Christie's, New York, 9 novembre 2022, n° 24.


Paris, Palais de l’Industrie, 1868, Salon de 1868, n° 147 [Sous le titre : Étude de fleurs] - Paris, galerie Wildenstein, 1950, n° 21 - Londres, Tate Gallery, 1960-1961, The John Hay Whitney Collection, n° 2, repr. p. 12 - Washington, National Gallery, 1983, The John Hay Whitney Collection, n° 1, repr. p. 16 - Paris, New York, 1994-1995, Impressionnisme. Les Origines, pl. 221, repr. p. 176, cat. 4, p. 330 - Montpellier, Paris, Washington, 2016-2017, cat. 31, repr. p. 235 et p. 91 [Les références sont du catalogue en français].


Ixe, Journal de Montpellier, 23 mai 1868 - Poulain, Bazille et ses amis, 1932,  n° 13, pp. 60, 213 - Sarraute, Catalogue de l'œuvre de Frédéric Bazille, 1948, n° 19, p. 42  [Thèse de l'Ecole du Louvre non publiée] - Wildenstein, Arts, 9 juin 1950 - Daulte, Bazille et son temps, 1952, n° 18, p. 173 (repr.) [Thèse sous la direction de Gaston Poulain] - Rewald, Histoire de l'Impressionnisme, 1961, repr. p. 113 [Réédition de 1946] - H. L. F., London’s Public Glimpse at the Private J. H. Whitney Collection, Art News, vol. 59, n° 9, janvier 1961 (repr.) - Rewald, Histoire de l'impressionnisme, 1976, repr. p. 151, pl. 75 [Réédition de 1946] - Daulte, L’Œil, avril 1978, repr. p. 38 - Bumpus, Impressionist Gardens, 1990, n° 33 - Daulte, Frédéric Bazille Catalogue raisonné de l'œuvre peint, 1992, p. 45 (repr. coul.) et p. 161, n° 20 (repr.) [Réédition de 1952 avec photos en couleur] - Bajou, Frédéric Bazille, 1993, p. 119 (repr.) - Schulman, Frédéric Bazille : Catalogue raisonné, 1995, n° 24, repr. p. 143 - Schulman, Fédéric Bazille : Catalogue raisonné - Supplément 1, 2006, repr. p. 30 - Hilaire, Jones, Perrin, Cat. exp. Montpellier, Paris, Washington, 2016-2017, cat. 31, repr. p. 235 et p. 91 [Les références sont du catalogue en français] - Schulman, Frédéric Bazille : Catalogue raisonné numérique, 2022, n° 24.

Bazille sent the Potted Flowers to the 1868 Salon along with The Family Gathering. In mid-March, before he knew the jury's double decision, he wrote to his mother: "It is to be expected that Méric's painting will be refused, you know that I sent another one to please the Lejosne's to whom I gave it. They are flowers, I think they will be received". In fact, both paintings were accepted.

It has generally been believed that, dissatisfied with the portrait of Maître that he intended for the 1867 Salon, Bazille finally substituted the Potted Flowers for it, and that these were then refused by the jury along with The Terrace at Méric. But this opinion is formally contradicted by a list of his own works established by Bazille and copied after his death, probably by his father. We extract the following: "Portrait de Maître refusé au Salon de 1867 / la terrasse de Méric refusée idem / pots de fleurs donnés à Mme Lejosne (Salon 68) / [...] portrait de famille (Salon 68)". So things are clear: the paintings that the jury refused in 1867 were The Terrace at Méric and the Portrait of Edmond Maître; those he accepted in 1868 are The Family Gathering and the Potted Flowers.

It is obvious that the highly imprecise name of Study of Flowers under which the latter was exhibited has nowadays misled those who have tried to identify it. Thus, it may have been thought to be the Vase of Flowers on a Console dated precisely in 1868. But if the list we have just cited needed confirmation, it would be found in the only description of the Study of Flowers left by the critics who visited the Salon that year. It is found in an article signed "J. Ixe," which appeared in the Journal de Montpellier on May 23, 1868. It does state that plants in pots are seen in Bazille's painting and, among them, lists hydrangeas, azaleas, and various varieties of geraniums, which in no way applies to the Vase of Flowers on a Console but does, on the other hand, fit perfectly the Potted Flowers.

In fact, we discover in this painting a pink hydrangea, three different varieties of geraniums or pelargoniums, as well as an azalea on the right, whose flowers are quite similar to those of a rhododendron. The painting also shows us roses, other unidentifiable flowers, and, in front of its seven pots, a bouquet of cut flowers, wrapped in a sheet of paper, which could be peonies.

Arums et pots de fleurs, Auguste Renoir, 1864, Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hambourg
Arums et pots de fleurs, Auguste Renoir, 1864, Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hambourg
Bazille probably executed these Potted Flowers in the greenhouse at Méric. We know from other paintings, The Terrace at Méric and Oleanders for example, that Méric's property was abundantly flowered, offering him subjects at every step that might tempt him. Didn't Monet, moreover, already invite him in his letter of August 26, 1864 to paint flowers? "I have so much work to do on my outdoor studies that I don't dare to start painting flowers, and yet I would like to paint these beautiful daisies. Please do so, for I think it is an excellent thing to paint". It is also possible that the example of his peers inspired Bazille to paint these flowers: in 1864, Renoir had executed his Arum et plantes de serre and Monet his Nature morte.

Dated 1866, this painting is, it seems, the only one that Bazille did at Méric during the Summer of that year.

The arrangement of the flowers is simple. There is no particular research, which will make Rewald say that Bazille "lacked inspiration", but that this lack is fortunately compensated for by "contrasts" and a great "solidity".The young artist", he adds, "overcomes his awkwardness and timidity by a humble and constant effort to penetrate the mysteries of nature" [Rewald, Frédéric Bazille's Potted Plants, The John Hay Whitney Collection, National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1983, n° 1]. These mysteries reside in colors rendered here at their true value. The rightness of the tones between the pinks, the mauves, the blues, the whites, the harmony of the colors that Poulain notes: "This little canvas marks an interruption in the flow of grays; and bright colors bloom in it, refreshing in a way the succession of matte canvases that come out of his Paris studio" [Poulain, 1932, pp. 60-61]. It is true that, since the stay at Chailly, the shimmering colors had disappeared from Bazille's palette: The Improvised Field Hospital, the Still Life with Fish and The Artist's Studio on the rue de Furstenberg, are all painted in sober ranges.

The Potted Flowers, on the other hand, are resplendent and announce future floral arrangements as well as the two paintings entitled Young Woman with Peonies for example, a painting that Manet would not have disowned.