A Razzle-Dazzle of Bazille

French Impressionist painter Jean Frédéric Bazille was born in Montpellier, Hérault, Languedoc-Roussillon, into a wealthy Protestant family on December 6, 1841.  His early inspiration in art came from seeing some artworks by Eugène Delacroix. Bazille’s family only agreed to let him study painting, if he also studied medicine, which he began in 1859. To do so, he moved to Paris and met both Alfred Sisley and Pierre-Auguste Renoir. After failing his medical exam in 1864, he began painting full-time with his new close friends who also included Claude Monet and Édouard Manet. Bazille was generous with his wealth, and helped support his less fortunate associates by giving them space in his studio and materials to use.

Many of Bazille’s major works are figure paintings situated in a landscape space – known as “en plein air“. His best-known painting is Family Reunion of 1867–1868 (Musée d’Orsay, Paris) see below.

Frédéric Bazille joined a Zouave regiment in August 1870, a month after the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War. On November 28 of the same year, he was with his unit at the Battle of Beaune-la-Rolande,  when after one of his officers had been injured, he took command and led an assault on the German position.

  • He was hit twice in the failed attack and died on the battlefield at the age of 28, on November 28, 1870.
  • His father travelled to the battlefield a few days later to take his body back for burial at Montpellier over a week later.

From thereon in, the razzle-dazzle of the brush of Bazille ceased.

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