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Frédéric Bazille

The Digital Catalogue Raisonné

by Michel Schulman
© Tous droits réservés

Trees, Study

Huile sur toile [Rentoilé en 1947]
40 x 27 cm - 16 1/8 x 11 in.
Collection particulière
Dernière mise à jour : 2022-06-24 15:39:20
Référence : MSb-1


Famille de l’artiste - Frédéric Bazille, neveu de l’artiste - Par descendance aux propriétaires actuels - Vente Paris, Cornette de Saint Cyr, 17 juin 2021, n° 6 (Non vendu) - Collection particulière, France, décembre 2021 - Collection particulière, Metz.


Paris, galerie Wildenstein, 1950, n° 4 - Chicago, The Art Institute of Chicago, 1978, n° 4, repr. p. 37 - Montpellier, musée Fabre, 1984, repr. p. 1 - Montpellier, New York, 1992-1993, n° 37, repr. p. 132 - Montpellier, Paris, Washington, 2016-2017, cat. 7, repr. p. 220 [Non exposé] - Barbizon, musée des peintres de Barbizon, 18 juin-18 septembre 2022, L'école du paysage : Barbizon. La révolution artistique du 19e siècle, repr. p. 10.


Sarraute, Catalogue de l'œuvre de Frédéric Bazille, 1948, n° 1, p. 1 [Thèse de l'Ecole du Louvre non publiée] - Daulte, Frédéric Bazille et son temps, 1952, n° 1, pp. 113, 167 [Thèse sous la direction de Gaston Poulain] - Marandel, Cat. exp. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1978, n° 4, repr. p. 37 - Daulte, Frédéric Bazille : Catalogue raisonné de l'œuvre peint, 1992, n° 1, p. 153 (repr.) [Réédition de la thèse de 1952 avec photos en couleur] - Jourdan, Vuatone, Cat. exp. Montpellier, New York, 1992-1993,  n° 37, p. 132 - Bajou, Frédéric Bazille, 1993, p. 51 (repr.) - Schulman, Frédéric Bazille : Catalogue raisonné, 1995, n° 1, repr. p. 102 - Hilaire, Jones, Perrin, Cat. exp. Montpellier, Paris, Washington, 2016-2017, cat. 7, repr. p. 220 [Non exposé] [Les références sont du catalogue en français] - Schulman, Frédéric Bazille : Catalogue raisonné numérique, 2022, n° 1.

A student of Gleyre, Bazille first had to practice drawing before committing himself to painting. It was during a stay at Chailly with Monet in the Spring of 1863 that he stepped on. A choice undoubtedly guided by Monet, himself influenced by Boudin and already dominated by color. It was with this Trees, Study that Bazille made the decisive step. He then obtained the permission from his parents to follow this new path.

We are almost certain that this is indeed one of his first paintings. Indeed, on March 1, 1863, he declared that he had not "yet touched any color", and a few weeks later, in early April, he formed the project of "spending the next week in the forest of Fontainebleau with two or three comrades to make some studies of trees". This project was carried out because on April 13, he wrote to his father: "I am working a lot thanks to the beautiful weather. I still need two days to make one or two studies". The result is this "small study of trees at Chailly, tasty, but still meager", as Xavier Dejean will say [Catalogue Fabre Museum, Montpellier, Summer 1984]. An interesting clarification because it allows us to understand how Bazille worked and that we know only a part of the works he would have executed during his stay at Chailly.

After this experience, could Bazille still doubt his abilities? If this Trees, Study is "meager," it is not because he is fumbling or hesitating, but simply because the chosen landscape is bare. It is Spring, but nature has not yet lost its winter finery: the trees are leafless, the blue sky and vegetation are still as if gripped by the cold. It is true that the composition of the painting suffers from a certain imbalance between the upper part, where the branches dominate, and the lower part where the famous sandstone rocks of the Fontainebleau forest are painted. The trees and branches are finely drawn while the rocks are only sketched. "The light underlines with a white line the passage from the dark branches to the blue sky" [Daulte, 1992, p. 112]. A sky where we find the influences of Corot. In his article "The Fontainebleau Schools" [Chicago, Cat. exp. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1978, p. 36], Marandel brings this Trees, Study closer to a pastel by Pierre Prins, the Grande futaie. According to him, Sisley and Prins met Monet and Bazille at the Auberge du Cheval Blanc at Chailly. For Marandel, Bazille would have been inspired by an engraving by Alphonse Legros. The style of this Trees, Study  would be found in the Courtyard of the Auberge du Cheval blanc near Barbizon in 1864. It remains sober and Bazille has not really broken away from a certain classicism. He is not yet at the Landscape at Chailly of 1865 where the influences of Courbet and Rousseau are directly felt.