A Still-life by Bazille for the Musée Fabre

Frédéric Bazille (1841-1870)
The Scoter, 1864
Oil on Canvas - 47.3 x 39 cm
Montpellier, Musée Fabre
Photo : Musée Fabre

14/5/12 - Acquisition - Montpellier, Musée Fabre - The Musée Fabre has just acquired The Scoter by Frédéric Bazille, sold at auction for $242,500 at Sotheby’s New York last 3rd May. Having died at the age of only 28, this artist from Montpellier painted about sixty works, many residing at the Musée Fabre which systematically attempts to purchase the best works on the market, with a collection of already twenty or so canvases and drawings.

The very understated composition and the limited palette of this work evoke another still-life : Dead Eagle Owl by Manet, a friend of the artist, who also placed the fowl on a wood panel and used a free stroke. Unlike 17th and 18th century animal painters, such as David Klöcker Ehrenstrahl or Melchior d’Hondecoeter, the two friends were not interested in depicting a detailed reproduction of the animal’s feathers nor obtaining a trompe l’oeil. Bazille achieves a certain dramatic effect by his choice of a very spare ensemble, the beautiful outline of the shadow and the crossing of the wings. Finally, he defines the limits, thus the existence, of the canvas by extending the beak outside the frame.
This work will join the Still-life with Heron, a more theatrical composition by the artist which accompanies Alfred Sisley’s Heron with Open Wings, also in the museum collections. A painting at d’Orsay reveals the artist’s friendships and his interest in still-lifes : we refer to the portrait of Bazille by Renoir.

In concluding, we would like to commend the city of Montpellier which has decided to make an exceptional allocation of 750,000€ in 2012 for additions to the Musée Fabre. Given the possibilities provided by such a generous sum (donations from patrons, the region and the government are obtained more easily when the museum itself contributes significantly towards a purchase), the museum will dispose of a very generous acquisition budget this year, resulting no doubt in a total of several million euros.

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Bénédicte Bonnet Saint-Georges, mercredi 16 mai 2012

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