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Frédéric Bazille

The Digital Catalogue Raisonné

by Michel Schulman
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Portrait of Zacharie Astruc

Huile sur toile
57 x 47 cm - 22 1/16 x 18 5/16 in.
Collection particulière
Dernière mise à jour : 2022-03-13 15:22:06
Référence : MSb-53


Famille de l’artiste - Marc Bazille, frère de l'artiste - Frédéric Bazille, neveu de l’artiste - Mme Maurice Pallier, née Françoise Bazille, sa fille, Nîmes - Collection particulière - New York, Sotheby's, 3 novembre 2010, n° 138 - Collection particulière, Etats Unis.


Paris, galerie Wildenstein, 1950, n° 39 - Montpellier, musée Fabre, 1959, n° 27 - Chicago, The Art Institute of Chicago, 1978, n° 49, repr. p. 102 - Montpellier, musée Fabre, 1984, (n.n.), repr. p. 2 - Montpellier, Paris, Washington, 2016-2017, cat. 19, repr. p. 228 [Les références sont du catalogue en français].


Sarraute, Catalogue de l'œuvre de Fréderic Bazille, 1948, n° 48, p. 111 [Thèse de l'Ecole du Louvre non publiée] - Daulte, Bazille et son temps, 1952, p. 142 et p. 185, n° 46 (repr.) [Thèse sous la direction de Gaston Poulain] - Rewald, Histoire de l'Impressionnisme, 1973, p. 116 [Réédition de 1946] - Marandel, Cat. exp. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1978, n° 49, repr. p. 102 - Daulte, Frédéric Bazille : Catalogue raisonné de l'œuvre peint, 1992, n° 51, pp. 134, 176, repr. p. 63 - Bajou, Frédéric Bazille, 1993, p. 96 - Schulman, Frédéric Bazille : Catalogue raisonné, 1995, n° 53, repr. p. 196 - Hilaire, Jones, Perrin, Cat. exp. Montpellier, Paris, Washington, 2016-2017, cat. 19, repr. p. 228  [Les références sont du catalogue en français] - Schulman, Frédéric Bazille : Catalogue raisonné numérique, 2022, n° 53.

Zacharie Astruc, photographed by Etienne Carjat
Zacharie Astruc, photographed by Etienne Carjat
Painted around 1869, this portrait has had various attributions as to the man represented: Zacharie Astruc, Portrait of the Man with a Cigar, Portrait of an Unknown Person, so many names that have not definitively solved the problem of the identity of the model.

Sarraute refused it to be identified with Zacharie Astruc. In a letter of June 10, 1984, published on the occasion of the exhibition at the Fabre Museum, Sarraute specifies that he himself had, by mistake, first proposed this name. But he now prefers the name of Catulle Mendès (1841-1909) who, it is true, was like Bazille, passionate about music and had "the Wagnerian revelation at the concerts of the Italian Theater in 1862. Catulle Mendès founded La Revue fantaisiste in 1860. This review welcomed beginners such as Alphonse Daudet, Jules Claretie, François Coppée and Sully Prudhomme.

Zacharie Astruc, Félix Bracquemond, 1865. This portrait partially remove the doubt of the identity of the man
Zacharie Astruc, Félix Bracquemond, 1865. This portrait partially remove the doubt of the identity of the man
Bazille and Catulle Mendès may thus have known each other or at least met in these circles that violently criticized the hypocritical morality of the Second Empire. To verify the hypothesis put forward by Sarraute, we can compare our portrait with that of Catulle Mendès by Vallotton [Cf. Exhibition catalogue Winterthur, Bremen, Düsseldorf, Paris, 1978-1979, Félix Vallotton, n° 189] and with his photograph made by Carjat in 1860s. But in neither of these two documents does it seem possible for us to recognize with certainty the model painted by Bazille. In the end, it is the name of Zacharie Astruc that we have preferred, being the one we already gave in 1995. As for the exhibition catalogue of the 2016-2017, it adopts the more generic name of Portrait of a Man, for lack of more tangible evidence, which we also find understandable. But does the argument Perrin puts forward "of an unfinished painting" make it a work of relative youth? In fact, one should not confuse "unfinished" work with "spontaneous" work. Tangible proof of this can be found in Degas's many portraits where the hands remain unfinished, which does not necessarily make them works of youth.

A friend of Bazille, Zacharie Astruc was also a friend of Manet, who painted his portrait in 1863 [Kunsthalle, Bremen]. The two works, however, are diametrically opposed. Manet integrates Astruc into his everyday world; he emphasizes his professional situation and his social standing. This is not the case with Bazille, who seeks intimacy above all. When he portrays his friends, Renoir, Sisley, Maître, Blau, it is not to deliver a message. Intellectually involved in the avant-garde movement of the time, Bazille does not go so far as to dedicate his painting to it and commit himself to it morally.