Jean Frédéric Bazille (December 6, 1841 –
November 28, 1870) was a French Impressionist painter. Many of Bazille's major
works are examples of figure painting in which Bazille placed the subject
figure within a landscape painted en plein air.
Frédéric Bazille was born in Montpellier, Hérault, Languedoc-Roussillon, France,
into a wealthy Protestant family. He became interested in painting after seeing
some works of Eugène Delacroix. His family agreed to let him study painting, but
only if he also studied medicine.
Bazille began studying medicine in 1859, and moved to Paris in 1862 to continue
his studies. There he met Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Alfred Sisley, was drawn to
Impressionist painting, and began taking classes in Charles Gleyre's studio. After
failing his medical exam in 1864, he began painting full-time. His close friends
included Claude Monet, Alfred Sisley, 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.
Bazille was just twenty-three years old when he painted several of his
best-known works, including The Pink Dress (ca. 1864, Musée d'Orsay,
Paris). This painting combines a portrait-like depiction of Bazille's cousin,
Thérèse des Hours, who is seen from behind—and the sunlit landscape at which she
gazes. His best-known painting is Family Reunion of 1867–1868 (Musée
Frédéric Bazille joined a Zouave regiment in August 1870, a month after the
outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War. On November 28 of that year he was with his
unit at the Battle of Beaune-la-Rolande when, his officer having 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 twenty eight. His father
travelled to the battlefield a few days later to take his body back for burial at
Montpellier over a week later.