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Frédéric Bazille

The Digital Catalogue Raisonné

by Michel Schulman
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Young Woman with Lowered Eyes

Huile sur toile
46,2 x 38,2 cm - 18 1/4 x 15 in.
Signé en bas à droite, de bas en haut : F Bazille
Collection particulière
Dernière mise à jour : 2022-03-29 11:19:07
Référence : MSb-42


Famille de l'artiste, Montpellier - Marc Bazille, frère de l'artiste, Montpellier - Frédéric Bazille, son fils - Mme Jean Rachou-Bazille, née Andrée Bazille, Montpellier - Collection particulière - The Mitsubishi and Banking Corp., Tokyo, 1989 - Vente Sotheby's, Londres, 20 juin 2007 n° 414 - Collection particulière.


Paris, Association des étudiants protestants, 1935, n° 7 - Montpellier, musée Fabre, 1941, n° 26 - Montpellier, musée Fabre, 1959, n° 18 - Nice, galerie des Ponchettes, 1960, n° 103 - Chicago, The Art Institute of Chicago, 1978, n° 48, repr. p. 100  - Montpellier, New York, 1992-1993, n° 47, repr. p. 142 - Montpellier, Paris, Washington, 2016-2017, n° 34, repr. p. 237 et p. 174 [Les références sont du catalogue en français].


Poulain, Bazille et ses amis, 1932, n° 30, p. 217 - Sarraute, Catalogue de l'œuvre de Frédéric Bazille, 1948, n° 56, p. 120 - Daulte, Bazille et son temps, 1952, n° 40, p. 69 [Thèse sous la direction de Gaston Poulain] - Marandel, Catalogue exp. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1978, n° 48, repr. p. 100 - Daulte, Frédéric BazilleCatalogue raisonné de l'œuvre peint, 1992, n° 44, pp. 134, 145, 172-173 [Réédition de 1952 avec photos en couleur] - Michel, Bazille, 1992, pp. 247-248 - Jourdan, Catalogue exp. Montpellier, New York, 1992-1993, n° 47, repr. p. 142 - Bajou, Frédéric Bazille, 1993, p. 101 - Schulman, Frédéric Bazille : Catalogue raisonné, 1995, n° 42,  repr. p. 175 - Hilaire, Jones, Perrin, Catalogue exp. Montpellier, Paris, Washington, 2016-2017, cat. 34, repr. p. 237 et p. 174 [Les références sont du catalogue en français] - Schulman, Frédéric Bazille : Catalogue raisonné numérique, 2022, n° 42.

Women representation had until now led Bazille down other paths: to the nudes he executed at the Gleyre studio, to women inserted into a landscape.

The Young Woman with Lowered Eyes is painted in bust form, dressed in a simple short-sleeved bodice. Her head is seen from three quarters, slightly lowered and with her eyes practically closed. Her black hair is pulled back in a thick bun. Her sensual lips mark of their red color this face that floods a solar brightness. The mouth smiles softly as if, with her eyes closed, the young woman is thinking of something pleasant.

All the lines are rendered with perfectly successful graphics - which is not always the case for Bazille's characters. The neck harmoniously extends the nape of the neck on which a tuft of hair falls. The left cheek, finely modeled, ends with a rounded chin that recalls the corpulence of the woman. The forehead is wide and surrounded by abundant hair and thick lashes. The nose is long, almost aquiline. On broad shoulders, the bodice simply clears the neck. The painting is under direct light that brights the left part of the face and the bust of the young woman. The dark parts are nonetheless highlighted by modeling that Bazille would use again in The Fortune Teller.

To the graphic design, this time skillfully mastered, is added a judicious combination of colors. The general tone, dark green, is found not only in the background but also on the skin of the girl, on her shirt whose folds are restored by broad brushstrokes. Bazille was not content to make one or two colors predominate depending on the subject he was treating", writes Daulte. To further accentuate the overall harmony, he detached his portraits on backgrounds of an even and muted tone. Very often, Bazille exaggerated the darkness of the backgrounds, in order to emphasize the figures" [Daulte, 1992, pp. 134-135]. Here, the bright colors Daulte refers to are replaced by pastel tones; they give a lightness that the painting might not otherwise have. But it is excessive to say, as Daulte does, that "most of Bazille's figures have their eyelids half closed" [Daulte, 1992, p. 145]. This is true often enough to deserve to be considered as reflecting a tendency of Bazille's, but he also painted many other figures who, on the contrary, have their eyes wide open.

Did Bazille intend the Young Woman with Lowered Eyes to look intentionally static? One might think so, given the dark circles he employed to outline both the face and upper forehead and the bust. The movement of the slightly bent head and sloping shoulders, gives a certain grace to the young woman, in whom everything breathes calm, rest, serenity. The linear technique, unlike Frédéric Bazille at Saint-Sauveur, for example, amplifies this impression, which is found in The Fortune Teller. We are not familiar with this model. In fact, Bazille is not interested in his identity here. It is not like the Portrait of Alphonse Tissié  in a Cavalryman's Uniform where we recognize the man and his function. Here, the woman is anonymous. No doubt this is a painting he did at the studio on rue Visconti or shortly before moving there. Gaston Poulain dates it to 1868; Sarraute dates it to 1867 and says that it may be the painting seen in the A Studio on the rue Visconti above the Little Italian Street Singer. In this case, the Young Woman with Lowered Eyes would date from 1867 or shortly before. The painting's color tone and theme, however, lead us to date it to 1868 as The Fortune Teller. And its dating of 1866-1867 should not be retained. In any case, we have here proof that Bazille was seeking new subjects at this time; he must have found them in a series of works that prove his progress as a portraitist.