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A Family Affair

POSTED BY , ON September 10, 2013, 2 COMMENTS

Bazille, Family Reunion

Are we having fun yet? The answer appears to be a definitive “no” in this painting by Frédéric Bazille of his bourgeois family at their country home in Montpelier. But as we’ve discussed previously, most of the subjects of Impressionist paintings aren’t smiling, so just what is it that makes this painting feel different?

It’s due to the fact that each figure can also be read as an individual portrait. All are stiff and posed, as if for a camera. Most of the ten subjects (nine of Bazille’s family members with the artist in the upper left) stare straight out and appear to directly address the viewer.

Compare this with Monet’s Women in the Garden painted the year before. Here the focus is more clearly on the garments and the effect of light on the dresses, not as much on the individuals. Bazille was, however, very inspired by Monet’s en plein air painting and worked closely with the artist, even sharing a studio at one point. He also purchased Women in the Garden from Monet shortly after it was finished, so Family Reunion likely took some sun-dappled influence from Monet’s painting of contemporary fashion out of doors.

—Tricia Patterson, Marketing Coordinator

Image Credit: Frédéric Bazille. Family Reunion, 1867. Musée d’Orsay, Paris.

2 Responses to “A Family Affair”

  1. spudart says:

    The staring eyes of this portrait intently gazed at my girlfriend and I as we sat on the bench to the left of this painting. We tried to relax on the bench, but the Bazille family kept looking over at us. We eventually had to depart our bench in the gallery. The Bazilles had won.

  2. Katie R. says:

    “The Bazilles had won.” That just might take the cake for my favorite comment. Ever.