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Frédéric Bazille

The Digital Catalogue Raisonné

by Michel Schulman
© Archives familiales

End of a Summer Day

Huile sur toile
59,5 x 51,5 cm - 23 7/16 x 20 1/4 in.
Collection particulière
Dernière mise à jour : 2022-04-01 13:47:40
Référence : MSb-89


Famille Leenhardt et Florence Doxat - Par succession leurs descendants Idelette Leenhardt et Alexandre Westphal - Collection particulière.


As far as we know, never exhibited


Schulman, Frédéric Bazille : Catalogue raisonné numérique, 2022, n° 89.

There can hardly be a more Bazillian subject than this young woman enjoying a late Summer afternoon in a park in the Languedoc in the South of France. Laying on her dress, a book open on her lap whose pages she has just read let her thoughts wander to an enigmatic elsewhere. Unless the tepidness of the moment incites to a dozing that her vague or pensive look would not know how to contradict.

Villa Louise seen from the back. Photo : archives familiales
Villa Louise seen from the back. Photo : archives familiales
Several paintings by Bazille join this subject. In the Oleanders, Bazille returns to the estate at Méric and the family home, whose greenhouse can be seen on the left of the painting. A sketched bench is placed across the alley flooded with sunlight. On the right, a woman whose dress is reminiscent of those in The Family Gathering, rests her arm on the back of the bench. The scene is simple, like this End of a Summer Day, which depicts a moment of daily life no doubt in the family park of Villa Louise. Another painting takes the same look at life at Méric. It is Thérèse Reading in the Park at Méric. She, too, is holding a book that obviously captures her full attention. Thérèse is sitting on a large chair, an underlying model of which is found in End of a Summer Day. Here, the bench is placed in an alleyway that leads to a gently sunlit clearing.

As for the trees, stiff and straight as if shooting toward the sky, we will compare them to those of the Summer Scene and the Fisherman with a Net, whose foliage blooms in the treetops. All obvious signs of Mediterranean vegetation.

The social and family life of the Montpellier Protestant community was intense at the time. Thus knew, frequented and appreciated the families Bazille, Westphal, Leenhardt, Tissié, Castelnau, Vialars, Cazalis, Layrargues, Planchon ... that united the same community of values through religion but also economics, politics, culture, social life and associations of leisure activities such as hunting which Gaston Bazille and his son Frédéric were followers. This is how André Gide describes it in Si le grain ne meurt: "There were Westphal, Bazille, Leenhardt, Castelnau, relatives of each other". In her thesis Michel-Maximilien Leenhardt: l'œuvre, reflet d'un milieu [Université de Toulouse le Mirail, 2019], Isabelle Laborie properly describes this intertwined milieu, which relied on powerful family ties. She also points out that, for many events, this world met at the properties at Méric, Bionne, Fontfroide, Saint-Sauveur, le Mazet as well as at the Villa Louise, all within a stone's throw of Montpellier.

Daulte describes the carefree life around Bazille as follows: "Wonderful cousins! Only a few years ago, they shared the great park the games and dreams of Frederic. And now they charm his eyes... They wander in the cool of the morning or the warmth of the evening, free and protected at the same time under the pine trees of the terraces, where the echoes keep their laughter. Or sitting at the foot of a favorite tree, the one that opens the most horizon and covers them the most, they read, or talk or embroider" [Daulte, 1992, p. 58 ].

According to family memory, End of a Summer Day would have been done at the Villa Louise which is next to Méric. We know that the Westphal-Castelnau family settled there full-time in 1859 and, through marriages, close links unite it with the Bazille, Leenhardt and Westphal.

We cannot with certainty recognize the features of the woman in our painting. Nevertheless, we will note similarities with certain cousins who appear in The Family Gathering.

But still, family history would see it as a portrait of Florence Doxat, wife of René Leenhardt, cousin of Gaston Bazille, Frédéric's father.

According to family records, Florence Doxat made a long stay at the Villa Louise in the Summer of 1866. It should be noted that the painting is part of an inventory where it is duly designated in 1929 as belonging to Florence Doxat living 7 rue Marceau at Montpellier. It will then pass into the hands of her daughter Idelette and will remain in the family until today.

X rays : we can see the repentance in painting underlined in red on the chair and the dress
X rays : we can see the repentance in painting underlined in red on the chair and the dress
Let's return for a moment to the subject of the painting. The young woman sitting on the bench was previously on a chair that looks like Thérèse Reading in the Park at Méric, pintimenti that stand out in the X-rays and the multispectral camera of New Lumiere Technology TWP. In the same way these pentimenti appear highlighting the modifications made by Bazille to the bottom of the dress.

Then we will notice similarities with the large red scarf on the bench and the red ribbon on the girl's head that appear in the View of the Village as well as with Young Woman Sewing and La Brodeuse amongst Bazille's drawings.

From all these historical and aesthetic aspects, we now add End of a Summer Day to Bazille's corpus of work.