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An outdoor painter who died too young to fulfill his early promise, Frederic Bazille was born in 1841 into a wealthy and cultured family living in Montpellier in the south of France. At the Montpellier home of the art collector Alfred Bruyas, his boyish imagination was excited by two paintings by Eugene Delacroix: Woman of Algiers and Daniel in the Lions' Den. When Bazille was 18 he obtained his parent's permission to study painting, but only on the condition that he read medicine at the same time. So in 1860 he began art lessons.
After two years he went to Paris and enrolled at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Charles Gleyre's studio, where he met Pierre Auguste Renoir, Claude Monet, and Alfred Sisley. The four young men soon became friends and formed a group independent of the other students. With Monet, Bazille would watch, from a window, the aged Delacroix at work in his garden studio. Like Monet he was also an admirer of Edouard Manet. During Easter, 1863, all four friends made outdoor studies in the Forest of Fontainebleau. Later that year Gleyre's studio closed down.

A Young Claude Monet
Bazille spent the summer of 1864, while waiting for the result of an examination in medicine, at Honfleur on the Seine estuary with Monet. There he met two marine painters, Monet's friends Eugene Boudin and Johan Barthold Jongkind. In Paris again in the autumn he found that he had failed his examination. At last his parents permitted him to study painting full time. In the Forest of Fontainebleau in 1865, when Monet was in bed for some days with an injured leg, Bazille painted Monet, after his accident, at the Inn in Chailly. During the following year he was working on two canvases which he submitted to the Paris Salon, Young Girl at the Piano and Still-life of Fish. As he had feared, only the still-life was accepted.
Meanwhile the influences of Courbet and Manet encouraged Bazille, Monet, and Renoir to attempt a new kind of subject, figure painting in the open air. In 1865 Bazille posed for Monet's life-size, unfinished Le Dejeuner sur l'Herbe and himself produced a study, The Pink Dress, in which the figure is in the shade, silhouetted against a summer evening landscape. In 1867 he achieved a successful tonal integration of figures and background in The Artist's Family on the Terrace, exhibited at the Salon in 1868, but later retouched and dated 1869.
Financially more secure than most of his friends, Bazille often gave them material help. He shared his Paris studio with Monet in 1865 and, when Monet was in difficulties, arranged to buy in installments his enormous Women in the Garden. Renoir stayed for some time at Bazille's next studio, in the Batignolles district of Paris. This spacious room was the setting of Bazille's The Artist's Studio in the Rue de La Condamine, in 1870, which incorporated portraits of Renoir, Manet, Monet, and the writer Emile Zola. Camille Pissarro, Paul Cezanne, and sometimes Courbet, were also visitors at his successive studios. He in turn was often present at the gatherings of the avant garde in the Cafe Guerbois. He was one of the few people capable of indulging in verbal duels with the erudite and sarcastic Edgar Degas, displaying a clarity of mind and matter-of-factness that were reflected in his work.

When the Franco-Prussian war broke out in 1870, Bazille volunteered for the regiment of the Zouaves. He was killed fighting at Beaune-la-Rolande (near Orleans) on November 28, 1870, at the age of 29.

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