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logo catalogue Bazille
Frédéric Bazille

The Digital Catalogue Raisonné

by Michel Schulman
© Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati


Huile sur toile
56 x 98 cm - 20 x 38 1/2 in.
Signé et daté en bas à droite : F. Bazille, 1867
Cincinnati , Cincinnati Art Museum, Etats-Unis - Inv. 1976-433
Dernière mise à jour : 2022-04-03 06:23:38
Référence : MSb-36


Famille de l'artiste - Mme Emile Gachon, née Marguerite Bazille, cousine de l'artiste, circa 1932 - Sa fille, Mme Jacques Leenhardt, Algérie, circa 1952 - Wildenstein, New York, circa 1968 - M. et Mme Mark P. et Jane Thomson Herschede, Cincinnati, 1968-1976 (Don au Cincinnati Art Museum en 1976).


Paris, Grand Palais, 1910, Rétrospective Bazille, n° 9 - Montpellier, Exposition internationale, 1927, Rétrospective Bazille, n° 10 - Paris, galerie Wildenstein, 1950, n° 35 - Montpellier, musée Fabre, 1959, n° 23 - Chicago, The Art Institute of Chicago, 1978, n° 20, repr. p. 60 - Los Angeles, Chicago, Paris, 1984-1985, L’impressionnisme et le paysage français, n° 79, repr. p. 225 - Edimbourg, National Gallery of Scotland, 2010, Impressionist Gardens, n° 13, repr. p. 37 - Madrid, musée Thyssen-Bornemisza, 2010-2011, cat. 15, repr. p. 101- Montpellier, Paris, Washington, 2016-2017, cat. 39, repr. p. 239 et p. 133 [Les références sont du catalogue en français].


Poulain, Comœdia, janv. 1927, pp. 161-174, repr. p. 161 - Poulain, Bazille et ses amis, 1932, n° 24, pp. 99-100, 215 - Sarraute, Catalogue de l'œuvre de Frédéric Bazille, 1948, p. 53, n° 24 [Thèse de l'Ecole du Louvre non publiée] - Romane-Musculus, Réforme, 24 juin 1950 - Daulte, Bazille et son temps, 1952, n° 26, pp. 63, 116, 147 et p. 177 [Thèse sous la direction de Gaston Poulain] - Allier, Lettres françaises,  oct. 1959 - Champa, Studies in Early Impressionism, 1973, fig. 123, p. 87 - Butler, The Connoisseur, juin 1977, p. 150 (repr.) - Apollo, juillet 1977, p. 85 (repr.) - Marandel, Catalogue exp. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1978, n° 20, repr. p. 60 - Gazette des Beaux-Arts, mars 1978, p. 54, n° 241 (repr.) - Milliard, 1980, p. 82, repr. p. 83 - Cincinnati Art Museum, 1984, p. 123 (repr.) - Bumpus, Impressionist Gardens, 1990, n° 31, repr. pl. 42 - Daulte, Frédéric bazille : Catalogue raisonné de l'œuvre peint, 1992, pp. 60, 113, 141, repr. coul. p. 57 et n° 29, p. 165 (repr.) [Réédition de 1952 avec photos en couleur] - Michel, Bazille, 1992, p. 155 - Bajou, Frédéric Bazille, 1993, p. 128 (repr.) - Schulman, Frédéric Bazille : Catalogue raisonné, 1995, n° 36, repr. p. 159 - Pitman, Bazille: Purity, Pose and Painting in the 1860s, 1998, pp. 134-135 - Willsdon, Catalogue exp. Edimbourg, National Gallery of Scotland, 2010, Impressionist Gardens, n° 13, repr. p. 37 - Hilaire, Jones, Perrin, Catalogue exp. Montpellier, Paris, Washington, 2016-2017, cat. 39, repr. p. 239  et p. 133 [Les références sont du catalogue en français] - Schulman, Frédéric Bazille : Catalogue raisonné numérique, 2022, n° 36.

The Summer of 1867 was fertile in paintings. In particular, Bazille executed Oleanders, the three landscapes at Aigues-Mortes and The Family Gathering.

The Oleanders, an unfinished work, was painted at Méric, part of whose greenhouse with an arched door and window can be seen. We also discern a small passageway as in The Terrace at Méric, an opening to the right of the house.

In the foreground, a bench, only sketched, is arranged across the center aisle in the shade of the chestnut tree. An elegant woman in crinoline sits on it, her right arm resting on the back of the bench. The woman herself is barely drawn. Between the bench and the building, a wide central path is drowned in the Languedoc sun. Its space is delimited by shadows and flowerbeds: on the right, oleanders, on the left, nasturtiums that surround the trunk of the blooming chestnut tree. It is an open-air landscape  that is offered to us here. All of the Midi is expressed here: the atmosphere, the colors, the vegetation, the smells. It is around the central alley with dazzling ochres that the whole picture is organized. With its invasive foliage, the chestnut tree frames the scene. Its trunk, too straight, and its summarily drawn foliage betray a certain naivety. But the verticality of the trunk and the horizontality of the foliage give the Oleanders a certain intimacy.

Les Lauriers roses, Van Gogh, 1888, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. This subject has often been resumed by artists in the 19th cenbtury
Les Lauriers roses, Van Gogh, 1888, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. This subject has often been resumed by artists in the 19th cenbtury
Here one feels as if protected not only from the sun but also from the surrounding world. Verticality is taken up and reinforced by the perfect parallelism between the trunk and the house, Bazille allowing lines to appear on each side of the tree that balance the painting upward. Horizontality, as we have said, is given by the compact foliage of the chestnut tree, foliage that covers the entire upper part of the painting, but it is also given by the bench and its lines that, on the central path, separate the shadow from the sun. The bed of oleanders is sumptuous. It is on this bench that the gaze first rests, all the more so as it bars the path. The three flowerbeds fit perfectly into the picture; the colors, which respond and complement each other, are reminiscent of Monet's most beautiful floral compositions.

Bazille presents us, here again, with a fairyland of colors with, as a general rule, oppositions between light and shadow, between the foliage of the trees and the roses of the laurel, oppositions slightly softened by the azure sky. We know that the day is beautiful but practically without seeing that sky whose presence Bazille always seeks to make us feel.

Once again, a painter of the outdoors, Bazille sought to include someone in his painting. But he did not succeed, the woman sitting at the end of the bench being poorly integrated into the landscape. The bench, meanwhile, could not be more poorly drawn.

A conundrum remains as to the layout. In The Terrace at Méric, the greenhouse, at the end and to the right of the house, can be perfectly distinguished. No tree is visible there. How then to explain the presence of the chestnut tree in the Oleanders, a chestnut tree so close to the house?

Bazille uses color contrasts here in the image of what Monet does in his Jardin de fleurs à Sainte-Adresse. Only the driveway and the flowers glow in the sunlight, contrasting with the rest of the abundant vegetation. Bazille thus gives meaning to the space through a subject that is, all in all, banal.

Less banal is the barely sketched bench in the foreground as well as the woman, so that one cannot avoid wondering why Bazille did not finish his painting. But in the 2016-2017 exhibition catalogue, Perrin rightly points out that the painting is signed, which would like to rule out the idea of an unfinished painting.