Page 5 - Bazille 2
P. 5

upplement 2 further expands the  Catalogue  raisonné  of
                                                the work of Frédéric Bazille, published in 1995, following
                                                Supplement 1 published in 2005.  It presents seven new
                                                works — seven new works that extend our knowledge of
                                      S the painter’s art. Their inclusion rests on thorough research
                                                and in-depth analysis of each work, at once esthetic, histo-
                                                rical and technical.

                                                Our work takes into account four observations that now
                                           MICHEL SCHULMAN
                                                structure and form our approach to the artistic evolution of
                                                the artist.
                                                Bazille’s body of work is irregular, with a variety of styles
                                                that sometimes make attribution and authentication diffi-
                                                cult and comparisons complicated. Thus we find from the
                                                same period of his short life works in the hand of a master
                                                as well as those of an art student.
                                                Bazille’s correspondence, while abundant and detailed,
                                                leaves out about ten paintings, some of which are impor-
                                                tant, even major. Given such patchy correspondence, it’s
                                                impossible to completely rely on his writing in authentica-
                                                ting new works. Furthermore, isn’t an artist’s correspon-
                                                dence but one of the elements used in authentication?
                                                A third observation — and not the least — must be made.
                                                This concerns the works left in his studio on rue des Beaux-
                                                Arts in 1870. As he did each year, Bazille left Paris to spend
                                                the summer with family in Méric; he would never return.
                                                What became of his studio ? Poulain says  in his book
                                                Bazille et ses amis, published in 1932, that the family gave
                                                Edmond  Maître the responsibility of gathering his works
                                                and sending them to them. However, no written document
                                                is known to corroborate that assertion. There’s therefore
                                                reason  to qualify  Poulain’s  information despite it always
                                                being repeated with certainty. And even if some of Bazille’s
                                                paintings then made their way to Montpellier, it’s unknown
                                                what exactly remained in his last studio. And how about
                                                works that may have been sold or given by Bazille himself
                                                during his short life?
                                                Lastly, nearly thirty paintings by Bazille are unsigned.
                                                Altogether, this leaves open the door for new discoveries
                                                that our work takes into account. For all these reasons we
                                                must acknowledge that the history of Bazille is not closed
                                                and resolve ourselves now to take a new look at his work

                                                Paris, October 2016.

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