Jean-Frédéric Bazille, Eros Hidden in Plain Sight
Many of my readers will be quite familiar with this image; in addition to its obvious beauty, it most likely has titillated at least a few.
Bazille was 27 when he painted this, a year away from his untimely death. Harsh critics have quibbled about his work, begrudgingly placing him amongst his friends and fellow Impressionists Renoir, Monet and Sisley. I am perplexed at this hesitation, there may be some youthful clumsiness in the background figure (I wish I were so clumsy), but I suspect what really keeps Bazille out of Olympus is the rather blatant homoeroticism of his work.
Fogg Art Museum
The gorgeous coloring, the classical poses and the confident brushwork are to the author far more appealing then so much of Renoir’s saccharine confections; yet Bazille is often not mentioned or as well known to the Water-lily loving set. I see shades of Poussin and Puvis de Chavannes, but perhaps I am over-reaching.
Art Institute of Chicago
There is no evidence of Bazille’s being homosexual, but some have assumed . This young fellow from Montpellier, of middle class background and independent means, rejected his father’s desire to pursue medicine to take up painting in 1862. His social and artistic circle included as i mentioned before Renoir, Monet and Sisley, but it also included Paul Verlaine, Arthur Rimbaud and Charles Baudelaire; one would be excused for making assumptions.
As Bazille was financially more secure then his painting chums, he was more then open to sharing his studio.
As you can see it is artfully decorated, the lilac walls a charming touch.
Bazille’s Studio;9 rue de la Condamine
Difficult to not notice the absence of the fairer sex, I enjoy seeing Fisherman With A Net on the wall.
In addition to self-portraits and interior views, Bazille and his fellow painters took turns posing and painting. This portrait of Renoir reminds me of certain paintings by Duncan Grant most particularly the portrait of his lover Maynard Keynes.
At least to this author there is a certain intimacy to this image, that feels quite similar to the sexiness of Grant’s work.
Bazille was painted by Renoir in 1867, it lacks that sensual quality.
Bazille At His Studio
Perhaps in addition to the underlying eroticism of some of his work; Bazille had a finely developed sense of the lovely. His floral painting are lush, rich with color and tickle the senses; qualities critics usually reject.
I particularly love this painting, feels so Venetian, so reminiscent of Veronese.
Bazille was also able to capture the modest charm of a dog in one’s studio, a subject that is particularly dear to my heart.
Although Bazille could have avoided military service, he chose to enlist, dying tragically in battle on the 28th of November 1870.
We will never know what wonders he could have produced, his death a gain for Mars, a loss for Man.
b. 6th December 1841
d.28th november 1870
Recquiscat in Pace