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Frédéric Bazille

The Digital Catalogue Raisonné

by Michel Schulman
© Musée d'Orsay, dist. RMN - Grand Palais/Patrice Schmitt

The Pink Dress

Huile sur toile
147 x 110 cm - 57 7/8 x 43 3/4 in.
Signé en bas à droite : F Bazille
Paris, Musée d'Orsay, France - Inv. RF 2450
Dernière mise à jour : 2022-04-03 06:21:37
Référence : MSb-10


Marc Bazille, frère de l'artiste - Legs de Marc Bazille aux musées nationaux par testament du 31 mai 1923 - Déposé au musée du Luxembourg le 19 juin 1925 - Entré au musée du Louvre le 5 janvier 1929 (RF 2722) - Entré au Jeu de Paume en 1947 - Au musée d’Orsay depuis 1986.


Paris, Grand Palais, Salon d'automne, 1910, Rétrospective Bazille, n° 8 [Sous le titre Jeune fille assise dans un parc] - Paris, Association des étudiants protestants, 1935, n° 17 (repr.) - Compiègne, musée national de Compiègne, 1953Le Temps des crinolines, n° 11 - Londres, Tate Gallery, 1954,  Les Impressionnistes du musée du Louvre, n° 30 - Londres, The Arts Council of Great-Britain, 1954,  Manet and his Circle, n° 50, repr. pl. XII - Marseille, musée Cantini et Nice, galerie des Ponchettes, 1955, Exposition impressionniste, n° 30 - Moscou-Léningrad, 1965, Tableaux des musées de France, n° 1,  pp. 5, 50 de la liste - Lisbonne, Fondation Gulbenkian, 1965,  Um Século de pintura francesa : 1850-1950, n° 4 (repr.) - Troyes, musée des Beaux-Arts, 1969, Renoir et ses amis, n° 45, repr. coul. pl. V - Moscou-Léningrad, 1971, L’Impressionnism, (repr.) - Madrid, musée du Prado, 1971, Les Impressionnistes français, n° 27, repr. p. 105 - Berlin, Prague, 1982-1983, De Courbet à Cézanne. Peinture française 1848-1886, n° 5, p. 44 - Compiègne, Palais de Compiègne, 1990, Le Temps des crinolines, n° 11 - Montpellier, New York, 1992-1993, n° 7, repr. p. 84 - Tokyo, Metropolitan Museum, 1996, La modernité, n° 9 repr. p. 55 - Kobé, musée municipal, 1996, La modernité, n° 9, repr. p. 55 - Paris, musée Marmottan Monet, 2003-2004, cat. 4, repr. p. 50 - Pékin, Shanghaï, Hong Kong, 2004-2005, Impressionism. Treasures from the National Collections of France, n° 10, repr. p. 115Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Madrid, 2012-2013, cat. 49, p. 163 - Rome, Complesso del Vittoriano, 2015-2016, n° 19 (repr.) - Montpellier, Paris, Washington, 2016-2017, cat. 15, repr. p. 45 et 226  [Les références sont du catalogue en français].


Rey, La Renaissance du sentiment classique dans la peinture française au XIXe siècle, 1921, p. 48 - Joubin, Beaux-Arts, 15 avril 1924, n° 8, pp. 119-121, repr. p. 120 - Poulain, L'Eclair du Midi, 1er nov. 1926, p. 2 - Masson, Catalogue des peintures, sculptures et miniatures du musée national du Luxembourg, 1927, p. 13 - Poulain, La Renaissance de l'art français et des industries de luxe, avril 1927, n° 4, p. 268 - Poulain, Formes, nov. 1931, n° 19, pp. 155-156 - Poulain, Bazille et ses amis, 1932, n° 12, pp. 57-59, 125, 134, 213 - Descossy, Montpellier, berceau de l'impressionnisme, 1933, cité p. 22 - Poulain, L'Art et les artistes, juin 1934, pp. 315-319 - Colombier, Candide, 4 avril 1935, p. 8 - Guillaume,  L'influence de l'atelier Gleyre sur l'impressionnisme français, Berne, 1936 [Compte rendu du congrès de Berne paru en 1937, vol. 1, pp. 11-12] - Scheyer, Art Quarterly, printemps 1942, p. 120 - Guérif, A la recherche d'une esthétique protestante : Frédéric Bazille, 1943, pp. 34-35 - Rewald, Histoire de l'impressionnisme, 1946, repr. p. 189 - Drucker, Arts, 16 mai 1947 - Cat. du musée des Impressionnistes, Jeu de Paume, Paris, 1947, n° 23 - Sarraute, Catalogue de l'œuvre de Frédéric Bazille, 1948, n° 7, pp. 11, 71 [Thèse du musée du Louvre non publiée] - Sarraute, Musée de France, mai 1949, n° IV, pp. 91-93 - Daulte, Arts, 9 juin 1950, pp. 1, 8 - Daulte, Bazille et son temps, 1952, pp. 49, 112, 115-116, 119, 134, 147 et pp. 169-170, n° 9, repr. coul. face p. 48  [Thèse sous la direction de Gaston Poulain] - Melville, The Architectural Review, juillet 1954, p. 47 (repr.) - Adhémar, Sterling, Musée national du Louvre. Peinture. Ecole française du XIXème siècle,  1958, n° 40, t. I, pl. XIII - Bazin, Musée national du Louvre, 1958, n° 4 - Adhémar, Sterling, La peinture du musée du Louvre, 1959, n° 40, pl. XIII - Rewald, Histoire de l'impressionnisme, 1961, repr. p. 221 [Réédition de 1946] - Courthion, Autour de l'impressionnisme, 1964 - Roskill, Burlington Magazine, juin 1970, Early Impressionism and the Fashion Print, pp. 391-395 - Champa, Studies in Early Impressionism, 1973, fig. 116, pp. 85-88 - Huygue, La relève du réel, 1974, n° 137, repr. p. 160 -  Adhémar, Distel, Cat. du musée du Jeu de Paume, 1977, repr. p. 12 - Rosenblum, Les peintures du musée d'Orsay, 1989, repr. p. 224 - Daulte, Frédéric Bazille : Catalogue raisonné de l'œuvre peint, 1992, n° 9, pp. 40, 106, 113, 116, 130, 141 et pp. 156-157, repr. coul. couverture et p. 115 [Réédition de 1952 avec photos en couleur] - Michel, Bazille, 1992, p. 155 - Jourdan, Vuatone, Cat. exp., Montpellier, New York, 1992-1993, n° 7, repr. 84 - Bajou,  Frédéric Bazille, 1993, n° 23, repr. p. 56 - Schulman, Frédéric Bazille : Catalogue raisonné, 1995, n° 10, repr. p. 115 - Hilaire, Jones, Perrin, Cat. exp. Montpellier, Paris, Washington, 2016-2017, cat. 15, repr. p. 45 et 226  [Les références sont du catalogue en français] - Schulman, Frédéric Bazille : Catalogue raisonné numérique, 2022, n° 10.

The Pink Dress is a turning point in Bazille's artistic career. As Gaston Poulain puts it, "it is the first canvas in which his personality becomes established" [Poulain, 1932, p. 57].

The Pink Dress was executed during the vacations of 1864 at Méric, a family property facing the village of Castelnau-le-Lez. Sitting on a low wall, Thérèse des Hours, Bazille's first cousin, turns her face toward the village that the sun is bathing with its last beams. In the preparatory drawing, on the other hand, she was face to us directly. It seems, therefore, that from the drawing to the painting, the artist's aim has changed. Instead of focusing all our attention on the woman, in the painting he uses it to guide our gaze towards the village. In this way, he does not deprive the human being of his importance, but he invites us to perceive the essential link between Thérèse and the village.

From drawing to painting, Thérèse des Hours does not, moreover, remain quite the same. Not only does her attitude change, but also her place on the small wall. In the drawing, she wears a beautiful, full dress; she swaps it in the painting for a more modest, simpler one that better suits the effect now being sought.

In a letter to his son written in December 1864, Gaston Bazille says that he had several photographs made of some of the paintings, including Le Village de Castelnau, the name given by the artist's father to The Pink Dress. And he adds, "I'll even tell you on this subject that this animal Huguet-Moline [the photographer], the epithet is not too strong, made me go into a blue anger; finding that his photograph did not stand out enough, he took it upon himself without saying anything to anyone, to add color on the scaled parts of your face and arm. I was very offended when I noticed these retouches, unfortunately the damage was done". Thérèse's arm and cheek did not benefit from the change. Thus are partially if not totally explained certain weaknesses that strike in this painting, whose retouched parts surprise by their naivety.

"You will arrange this as you wish if you keep this study", Gaston Bazille added. And indeed, his son could very well have repaired his painting. However, he did nothing about it and did not take care of it anymore. "I am making others to replace it", he wrote in February 1865. However, in a letter of December 22 to his mother, he had reacted to the news of the damage caused by the photographer by expressing a very strong displeasure: "What Daddy wrote to me about Huguet-Moline caused me a lot of pain. He was therefore very attached to his painting. In spite of that, what he added shows that he wanted to keep it out of sight: "I am very angry that my painting has been photographed... Since the thing is done, I beg you to give me one of these photographs in your next letter and to hide the others deep in your drawer. And his will on this point never changed, since in a letter of January 1, 1869, he still said: "Let it not be hung in a place where strangers can see it". Thus, even if he was not indifferent to it, The Pink Dress did not satisfy him. An astonishing attitude toward a painting that, even if damaged, remains one of his major works.

Turned to the village of Castelnau, Thérèse des Hours's gaze invites us to study its various aspects. Daulte says that Bazille "simplifies and orders the forms of the landscape" and that "the two views of Castelnau [The Pink Dress and the View of the Village] testify to an absolute respect for linear perspective" [Daulte,  1992, p. 116]. To convince himself of this, he suggests juxtaposing photographs of the village of Castelnau with Bazille's two paintings. This is how it is possible to make, as he says, "the part of its accuracy and its interpretation". It is always good to establish the part of interpretation of a painter. Bazille, as can be seen here, did not want to render details. He wanted to avoid any scrupulous tracing of reality, perhaps as a reaction against the conformism of the Gleyre studio. In any case, by interweaving them on his canvas, the houses of the village lose neither their volume nor their importance: it is finally on the mass that Bazille wanted to insist. The preparatory drawing does not give the architecture of the village this magnitude. In fact, it is the colors that transform the subject and, in an almost Florentine harmony, give The Pink Dress all its originality. The ochre walls of the houses reflect the sun's beams; they have a very Mediterranean warmth. Each one thus draws its own volume, the whole intertwining to form a mass that prefigures cubism. The curtain of trees is a kind of screen that dilates the forms of the landscape. In fact, it is the superimposition of cool tones - the greens of the trees - with the warm tones of the houses - the ochres and pinks - that is the key to the success of this painting.

In his article in the 2016-2017 exhibition catalogue, Perrin makes the connection between the preparatory drawing and the painting. He points out that "Presumably Bazille goes from the drawing to the painting by directly transferring the broad lines to the brush ... [but that] Bazille makes several changes in his composition... with a tighter framing" [Perrin, p. 44]. It should be noted that the X-rays show several changes, notably to the dress, the left arm, and the dark silhouette of the pine tree.

The Jeune Femme en plein air or the Jeune Femme dans un parc, as The Pink Dress was then referred to, "well show the nature of Bazille's research", André Joubin tells us [Joubin, 15 April 1924, p. 42]. It is, in a way, the first synthesis of the Languedoc landscape. In any case, he succeeds, as Zola says, in "putting figures of natural size in a landscape" [Zola, Edouard Manet, biographical and critical study,1991, p. 158]. This is indeed what Perrin emphasizes when he writes: "Over the course of the decade, the technical exercise, coupled with the concern to free oneself from the example of the masters, gradually turns into a project emblematic of the new aesthetic" [Perrin, p. 47].

On the occasion of the 2016-2017 exhibition, the Centre de Recherche et de Restauration des Musées de France (C2RMF) at the Louvre made analysis of several works by Bazille and his companions, including The Pink Dress. As the exhibition catalogue could not publish all the results, some were published on Internet by Bruno Mottin. Among them are that "the preparatory layer of white color probably applied industrially, that Bazille drew the structure of the village and the outline of the trees in a rigorously identical manner with a black pencil, and that numerous clues show that the work was entirely reworked by Bazille after its first phase of execution". To conclude, Bruno Mottin stipulates, "The Pink Dress was begun in 1864 but was largely transformed in 1865".

Related Works

Oeuvre en rapport
Vue de village - Huile sur toile - 137,5 x 85,5 cm - Musée Fabre (MSb-46)
Oeuvre en rapport
Vue de village - Eau-forte sur papier - 27,8 x 19,1 cm - Musée Fabre (MSb-121)
Oeuvre en rapport
Etude pour la Vue de village - Dessin au crayon - Musée d'Orsay (MSb-262)
Oeuvre en rapport
Etude pour la Vue de village - Dessin au crayon - Musée d'Orsay (MSb-263)
Oeuvre en rapport
Etude pour la Vue de village - Fusain - Musée d'Orsay (MSb-265)