Fleurs (1868)

Bazille, Frédéric (1841-1870)

Fleurs (Flowers)
Oil on canvas, 130 x 97 cm
Musée de GrenobleGrenoble

Coming from a large Protestant family in Montpellier, Frédéric Bazille was destined for a career as a doctor. However, in 1862 he entered Gleyre’s studio in Paris where he met Monet, Sisley and Renoir. Monet, for whom he would often be the model and financial support, took him to the forest of Fontainebleau then to Honfleur, and it was side by side that they confronted outdoor painting. Trying like his comrades to force the doors of the Salon with subjects borrowed from modern life, Bazille attempts a synthesis between figure painting and landscape. But to the misty skies of the Normandy coasts which inspired Boudin, Jongkind and Monet, Bazille preferred the harsh light of his native Languedoc. His Family Reunion, which earned him honors at the Salon of 1868, depicts his parents, his brother, his uncle and his aunt as well as his cousins on the terrace of the Méric estate, near Montpellier. It was for his cousin Pauline des Hours, present in this scene, that Bazille painted this painting of Flowers the same year, bequeathed to the museum in 1937 by one of his descendants. This still life, ambitious in its size and profusion of floral species, was undoubtedly created on Méric’s family property. On a Louis XV marble console sits a Montpellier earthenware vase garnished with an enormous bouquet of dahlias, heliotropes and amaranths, intertwined in apparent disorder. On the wall, a bignone lets its foliage run from which small orange flowers emerge. On the table, another bouquet of dahlias is spread like a cascade of colorful pompoms. The light, coming from the right, makes the textures vibrate and shows here the artist’s ability to capture the slightest colored nuances of these fragments of nature that are the flowers. Far from the influences of Monet and Manet, this painting appears rather as a direct homage to Delacroix, and in particular to the Vase of Flowers on a Console from 18481849. (MDG)

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