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Frédéric Bazille

The Digital Catalogue Raisonné

by Michel Schulman
© Tous droits réservés

Woman Arranging a Hat

Dessin au crayon
24 x 16,6 cm - 9 7/16 x 6 1/2 in.
Signé F. Bazille en bas à droite
Collection particulière
Dernière mise à jour : 2022-03-25 08:47:02
Référence : MSb-283


Collection particulière.


As far as we know, never exhibited


Schulman, Frédéric Bazille : Catalogue raisonné numérique, 2022, n° 283.

This drawing of a kneeling woman arranging a hat is certainly Bazille's most charming and romantic one. Here he draws a young woman with voluptuous contours suggested by the indentation of the dress that reveals a generous bosom. For, contrary to the subject that might seem to be the main one - namely the hat that she is arranging in front of her - it is her bust that she uncovers and advances advantageously that is the center of the drawing. And Bazille has succeeded very well.

The dress with puffed sleeves over the shoulders, revealing bare arms, is reminiscent of the one in The Pink Dress and, to a lesser extent, of the one worn by Mrs Emile Teulon, niece of Frédéric Bazille's mother, in The Family Gathering. Bazille rarely practiced this and, when he did later, it was for his Ruth and Booz, which was a different subject altogether.

The hat, however, is important. This model originated in the South of France and even in Spain; it is characteristic of the traditional folklore of the region and, as with his Camargue subjects in his albums, Bazille saw it as a source of inspiration.

The clumsiness of the hand is certainly the weak point of the drawing. It is not the first time that Bazille has failed to achieve a proper perspective. The hand of the woman on the right in Women in a Garden is the first to be noticed, but it is especially in his paintings that he most often failed. We can thus list his works: Naked Woman from Behind, Portrait of Renoir without forgetting all the hands of the characters in the Summer Scene that Bazille painted roughly.

As for the graphics, it is in the albums of the Orsay Museum kept in the Département des Arts of the Louvre that the variety of Bazille's various techniques is revealed. He skilfully used graphite pencil, as in his Man in an Armchair, where the spaces are sometimes filled in with hatchings that we notice in our drawing. And this is not the only case.

Should we discern among these varied examples of the failure or success of his stay at the Gleyre studio in 1863? We know that it was undoubtedly intense but short.

A question arises. Why did Bazille didn't finish the woman's  face? To conceal her identity? An enigma open to interpretation?

Bazille's drawings are rarely signed. The signature on our drawing is identical to those on the Studies after Delacroix  and the Man Smoking Pipe.