Huile sur toile
80,6 x 99,7 cm - 31 3/4 x 39 1/4 in.
Signé et daté en bas à droite : F. Bazille, 1867
New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Etats-Unis - Inv. 1988.2.221
Dernière mise à jour : 2022-04-03 06:23:37
Référence : MSb-32
Jules Leenhardt - Mme Brunel, circa 1932 - Mme Jules Castelnau - Henri Cazalis, circa 1952-1981 - Wildenstein, New York, 1981-1986 - Alan Clore, Paris, 1986-1988 - Vente Christie’s, Londres, 27 juin 1988, n° 75 - The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1988 (Don de Raymonde Paul en mémoire de son frère Michael Paul).
Montpellier, Exposition internationale, 1927, Rétrospective Bazille, n° 13 - Montpellier, musée Fabre, 1941, n° 20 - Paris, galerie Wildenstein, 1950, n° 31 - Montpellier, musée Fabre, 1959, n° 20 - Chicago, The Art Institute of Chicago, 1978, n° 21, repr. p. 62 - Lausanne, Fondation de l’Hermitage, 1984, L’impressionnisme dans les collections romandes, n° 24, repr. p. 145 et coul. pl. 24 - Edimbourg, National Gallery of Scotland, 1986, Lighting up the Landscape, n° 75 - Montpellier, New York, 1992-1993, n° 15, repr. p. 98 - Paris, Grand Palais, Impressionnisme. Les origines 1859-1874, n° 7, pp. 331-332 et repr. pl. 113, p. 85 - New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1994-1995 [La même exposition - Les références sont du catalogue en français] - Atlanta, High Museum, 1999, n° 16, repr. p. 54 et p. 19 (Détail) - Kansas City, Saint-Louis, 2013-2014, n° 39 - Montpellier, Paris, Washington, 2016-2017, n° 37, repr. p. 239 et p. 119 [Les références sont du catalogue en français].
Poulain, Bazille et ses amis, 1932, n° 20, pp. 87-88, 214 - Descossy, Montpellier, berceau de l'impressionnisme, 1933, pp. 22-23 - Poulain, L'Art et les artistes, juin 1934, pp. 315-319 - Languedoc, Montpellier, 1948, Éd. des Arceaux, repr. pl. IV - Poulain, Art de France, 1947, n° 17-18, pp. 122-123 - Sarraute, Catalogue de l'œuvre de Frédérric Bazille, 1948, n° 21, pp. 47-49 [Thèse de l'Ecole du Louvre non publiée] - Daulte, Bazille et son temps, 1952, n° 23, pp. 62, 112 et p. 175 (repr.) [Thèse sous la direction de Gaston Poulain] - Daulte, Connaissance des Arts, 1970, p. 87 - Daulte, Réalités, août 1971, p. 32 - Champa, Studies in Early Impressionism, 1973, pp. 86-87, repr. fig. 121 - Marandel, Catalogue exp. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1978, n° 21, repr. p. 62 - Horwarth, Country Life, 14 août 1986, fig. 1, p. 518 - Tinterow, The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, automne 1989, pp. 34-35 (repr.) - Daulte, Frédéric Bazille : Catalogue raisonné de l'œuvre peint, 1992, n° 26, pp. 57-58, 107, 110, repr. coul. p. 107 et p. 164 - Michel, Bazille, 1992, p. 145 - Pitman, Catalogue exp. Montpellier, New York, 1992-1993, n° 15, pp. 98-99 - Bajou, Frédéric Bazille, 1993, pp. 106-107, 125 (repr.) - Tinterow, Catalogue exp. Paris, New York, 1994-1995, n° 7, pp. 84, 331-332 - Schulman, Frédéric Bazille : Catalogue raisonné, 1995, n° 32, repr. p. 153 - Pitman, Bazille : Purity, Pose and Painting in the 1860s, 1998, pp. 130, 132-134 - Champa, Pitman, Catalogue exp. Atlanta, High Museum, n° 16, repr. p. 54, pp. 53-54 - Kelly, Catalogue exp. Kansas City, Saint Louis, 2013-2014, n° 39, pp. 25, 142, 144 - Hilaire, Jones, Perrin, 2016-2017, Catalogue exp. Montpellier, Paris, Washington, 2016-2017, cat. 37, repr. p. 239 et p. 119 [Les références sont du catalogue en français] - Schulman, Frédéric Bazille : Catalogue raisonné numérique, 2022, n° 32.
After long months in Paris, Bazille was eager to return to the Languedoc: "I will go and begin a study at Aigues-Mortes", he wrote in early June 1866. But in the end, he did not go there that year. No doubt he followed the advice of his father, who feared that "Aigues-Mortes, with its heavy heat, would not be a very pleasant or healthy place to stay. Bazille then thought of postponing his trip: "If it is too hot to go to Aigues-Mortes, I will put this little trip in October before the hot weather" [Lapsus or transcription error. We must read "after" and not "before"]. But it is only in the Spring of 1867 that he will stay there. "I have begun three or four landscapes of the surroundings of Aigues-Mortes", he will then write.
The Porte de la Reine at Aigues-Mortes represents one of the ten gates that give access to the city. It is massive and two defensive towers which flank it. Its arcade gives a glimpse, in the straight rue Émile-Jamais, one of the main arteries. On each side of the street, picturesque houses, as they still exist today, and some silhouettes of people. In front of the ramparts, outside the city, we see a horseman standing still, talking with a person standing with his hands in his pockets. The horse rider, wearing a blue blouse and carrying a long wooden stick, is certainly a Camargue gardian. To the right, a free-roaming horse is grazing while a young woman sits knitting while watching two young children playing in front of her.
The Porte de la Reine at Aigues-Mortes, unlike the two paintings of Aigues-Mortes is not a panoramic view. Bazille has narrowed the field of view to shrink his subject. In fact, more than the landscape and the people, what counts here is the general atmosphere, which is due to the light of the Midi.
Bazille erected this fortified gate "between the massive walls, against the light, in front of a sky of a backlit blue, signifying evening, which makes an oblique streak of dark ivory flow under the vault, right into the grasslands of the purple field", writes Poulain [Poulain, 1932, p. 86]. The door lets filter a ray of light. In order to give this aspect of a late day, Bazille has darkened the stone of the ramparts and the gate. In front of the wall, the gray water is reminiscent of the color of the horse and of some of the concrete that seal the stones of the ramparts. There is distinction in the choice of colors, in these sometimes pinkish grays, in these ochre yellows of the houses, but also in the red of the cap of the character who speaks to the rider.
The technique, here perhaps more than elsewhere, plays an important role. The small, tight, energetic strokes that build the ramparts are contrasted with the very broad strokes of the grass and water. This opposition is deliberate; it reinforces the importance of each shot.
Because Bazille had painted for many months in Paris, "the Languedoc Summer forced a change of his palette. And it is the landscapes at Aigues-Mortes that can be considered as establishing the date when this change is accomplished" [Poulain, 1932, p. 86]. One always notes in Bazille's work this difference between Paris and the Languedoc; it is inherent in the change of light and atmosphere. Théophile Gautier had rightly said that "summer is a colorist, winter a draftsman" [Quoted by Poulain, 1932, p. 88]. But, going beyond this observation, Bazille takes, with the Porte de la Reine at Aigues-Mortes, a further step towards his aim of interpreting light.
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