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Frédéric Bazille

The Digital Catalogue Raisonné

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

Studies for a Grape Harvest

Deux huiles sur toile
38 x 92 cm - 15 x 35 1/2 in.
Montpellier, Musée Fabre, France - Inv. 18.1.4 et 18.1.5
Dernière mise à jour : 2022-03-13 15:22:06
Référence : MSb-54


Famille de l’artiste, Montpellier - Marc Bazille, frère de l’artiste - Don de Marc Bazille au musée Fabre en 1918.


Paris, Grand Palais, 1910, Rétrospective Bazille, n° 16 - Montpellier, Exposition internationale, 1927, n° 21 - Paris, musée de l’Orangerie, 1939, Chefs-d’œuvre du musée de Montpellier, n° 6 - Berne, Kunsthalle, 1939, Meisterwerke des Museums in Montpellier, n° 5 - Montpellier, musée Fabre, 1941, n° 31 - Paris, galerie Wildenstein, 1950, n° 43 - Montpellier, musée Fabre, 1959, n° 31 - Montpellier, musée Fabre, 1970-1971, Hommage à Frédéric Bazille [s.n.] - Chicago, The Art Institute of Chicago, 1978, n° 34, repr. pp. 80-81 - Edimbourg, The National Gallery of Scotland, 1986, Lighting up the Landscape, n° 41 - Montpellier, musée Fabre, 1991-1992, n° 39 et n° 40, p. 18, fig. 14 - Montpellier, New York, 1992-1993, n° 39 et 40, repr. p. 134 - Montpellier, musée Fabre 2001 (s.n.) - Lausanne, Fondation de l'Hermitage, 2006, n° 90 - Montpellier, Paris, Washington, 2016-2017, cat. 48, repr. p. 244 et pp. 108-109 [Les références sont du catalogue en français].


Joubin, Catalogue des peintures et sculptures du musée Fabre, 1926, n° 362, p. 114 - Poulain, Bazille et ses amis, 1932, n° 35, pp. 139-140, 151, 217-218 - Descossy, Sur 20 tableaux du musée Fabre, 1938, p. 99 - Poulain, L'Art et les artistes, juin 1934, p. 318 (repr.) - Fliche, Les villes d'art célèbres, 1935, p. 136 - Joubin, Beaux-Arts, 24 mars 1939, p. 1 - Espezel, La Revue de Paris, 15 avril 1939, p. 910 - Goulinat, Le dessin, mars 1939, p. 454 - Poulain, Itinéraires, nov. 1942, p. 27 - Prinçay, Cahiers du sud, 1947, p. 869 - Sarraute, Catalogue de l'œuvre de Fréderic Bazille, 1948, n° 31, pp. 74-75 [Thèse de l'Ecole du Louvre non publiée] - Sarraute, Arts, 9 juin 1950 - Saulières, Midi-Libre, 15 juin 1950 - Claparède, Réforme, 24 juin 1950 - Daulte, Bazille et son temps, 1952, n° 38, pp. 113, 181-182 [Thèse sous la direction de Gaston Poulain] - Allier, Lettres françaises, oct. 1959 - Gourg, Vision sur les arts, 1970, n° 66 - Marandel, Cat. exp. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1978, n° 34,  repr. pp. 80-81 - Daulte, Frédéric Bazille : Catalogue raisonné de l'œuvre peint, 1992, n° 41, p. 112, repr. coul. pp. 110-111, p. 171 (repr.) - Jourdan, Cat. exp. Montpellier, New York, 1992-1993, n° 39 et 40, pp. 134-135 - Bajou, Frédéric Bazille, 1993, pp. 160-161 (repr.) - Schulman, Frédéric Bazille : Catalogue raisonné, 1995, n° 54, repr. p. 197 - Hilaire, Cat. exp. Lausanne, Fondation de l'Hermitage, 2006, n° 90, p. 228 - Hilaire, Jones, Perrin, Cat. exp. Montpellier, Paris, Washington, 2016-2017, cat. 48, repr. p. 244 et pp. 108-109 [Les références sont du catalogue en français] - Schulman, Frédéric Bazille : Catalogue raisonné numérique, 2022, n° 54.

As he did every year, Bazille returned to Méric to find his family and the Languedoc countryside. Unlike the previous Summer, during which he painted the View of the Village and the Fisherman with a Net, the Summer of 1869 is not very fruitful. All we know of this period are the Studies for a Grape Harvest and the Summer Scene, which is the major work of his stay.

The Studies for a Grape Harvest were donated by Marc Bazille to the Fabre Museum in 1918 and were painted near Montpellier. They depict the Bionne hillside and the Launac plain as seen from the Tissié family's property. In the distance, the Gardiole mountain can be seen.

To explain the existence of these two studies together in the same frame, it is important to know that Bazille was planning to do a large composition on the theme of the grape harvest. This information comes to us from notes written by the painter in album RF 5259, folio 67 verso, Miscellaneous Inscriptions; in it he lists works in which "a Gde vendange" and "a petite vendange" are mentioned, which seems to mean that he intended to do two separate paintings on the same theme. In any case, he mentions this in a letter of February 1869 in which he tells his mother, "The first time you go to Méric, bring back the exact measurements of the canvas on which I have begun the harvest, and send them to me to the nearest centimeter, I need to know this to arrange the painting".

It was Camille Descossy who gave the best description of these canvases: "At Bionne, summer on the vines. The vineyards bear a strong shadow on the ground. On this land it rained during the night; in the early morning, the water not yet drunk by the midday sun leaves the clay all its red power. After the blessed rain, vapors rise to the sky and the wind rolls small cumulus clouds in the beautiful weather. Bazille sinks the tips of his easel and his folding pen into the magnificent mud. He breathes, lungs full, the small lively mistral that will temper the August atmosphere until the evening. The plain, at the foot of the hill, is cut out like a checkerboard and green like a billiard table. Below, heads of olive trees protrude from the rows of vines; at the limit of sky and earth, the blue air moves the Gardiole away" [Descossy, Montpellier, 1938, p. 99].

It is a classic theme that these two paintings have, and yet Claparède speaks of them as "false good subjects" [Claparède, Réforme, 24 June 1950, p. 5].

Bazille emphasized the mineral and vegetal architecture of these plateaus. But, whether mineral or vegetal, it is understandable that some have noted the "somewhat cold coloration" of these paintings from which only the reflections of the sun on the vineyards stocks escape. Even the sky is far from the Languedoc colors of Summer. According to Claparède, "these two studies...show Bazille grappling with a research that appears in painting from the end of the eighteenth century to find its fulfillment with Monet a century later in front of the Cathédrale de Rouen and the Nymphéas at Giverny, the concern to render from the same landscape the successive truths of tones and relationships, the changing appearances according to the whim of the hour, the height of the sun". [Claparède, Réforme, 24 June 1950, p. 5]. Indeed, Bazille, in each of the paintings, has limited his approach; while favoring the unity of tones, he manages to vary the colors, as he succeeds in doing in A Studio on the rue Visconti where the browns have nothing monotonous. Here, the small touches of light green illuminate the landscapes and this is enough to reduce the monotony of the milky sky. It should be noted that the difference between the vegetal and the mineral is reinforced not only by the tone and the touch, but also by the material. The hillsides and hills, like the sky, are treated in a fine material, so fine that the canvas is sometimes visible.

All of this is very much in the tradition of the Midi landscape, not the tradition of Guigou, Carrand, or Cézanne, but the classical tradition of Matet, Castelnau, and Cabanel.

There are several drawings on the theme of the grape harvest. We cannot affirm, for lack of more precise information, that they prepare the painting envisaged by Bazille, but it is nevertheless highly probable. These are the four drawings Study for a Grape Harvest, Study for a Grape Harvest, Study for a Grape Harvest and Study for a Grape Harvest.

These Studies for a Grape Harvest will be Bazille's last landscapes before the Landscape on the Banks of the Lez.

Related Works

Oeuvre en rapport
Etude pour une vendange - Dessin au crayon - Musée d'Orsay (MSb-210)
Oeuvre en rapport
Etude pour une vendange - Fusain - Musée d'Orsay (MSb-217)
Oeuvre en rapport
Etude pour une vendange - Erude pour une vendange - Dessin au crayon - Musée d'Orsay (MSb-221)
Oeuvre en rapport
Etude pour une vendange - Dessin au crayon - Musée d'Orsay (MSb-247)
Oeuvre en rapport
Etude de branchages - Dessin au crayon - Musée d'Orsay (MSb-248)
Oeuvre en rapport
Etude pour une vendange - Crayon et fusain - Musée d'Orsay (MSb-253)