- Frédéric Bazille
- L'HOMME AU CIGARE or PORTRAIT DE ZACHARIE ASTRUC
- Oil on canvas
- 22 by 18 1/4 in.
- 56 by 46.5 cm
Paris, Galerie Wildenstein, Frédéric Bazille, 1950, no. 39
Montpellier, Musée Fabre, Frédéric Bazille, 1959, no. 27
Marseille, Musée Cantini, Le Portrait en provence, 1961, no. 2
The Art Institute of Chicago, Frédéric Bazille and Early Impressionism, 1978, no. 49
Montpellier, Musée Fabre, Frédéric Bazille, 1984
Gabrielle Sarraute, Catalogue de l'Oeuvre de Frédéric Bazille, Paris, 1948, no. 48
François Daulte, Frédéric Bazille et son temps, Geneva, 1952, no. 46, illustrated p. 185
John Rewald, Histoire de l'impressionnisme, Paris, 1973, p. 116
François Daulte, Frédéric Bazille et les débuts de l'impressionnisme, Paris, 1992, no. 51, illustrated p. 63 &176
Michel Schulman, Frédéric Bazille, Catalogue raisonné, Paris, 1995, no. 53, illustrated p. 196
In the present work, Frédéric Bazille depicts his friend Zacharie Astruc, an important figure in the cultural life of France in the second half of the 19th century who, like Bazille, played a large role in the formative years of the group that would later be known as the Impressionists. A writer, critic and artist himself, Zacharie Astruc participated in the first Impressionist exhibition of 1874 along with Bazille and Manet. Astruc was the first writer, before Zola and even Baudelaire, to champion the art of Manet and his followers. The early impressionist painters acknowledged his role by including his portrait in works as seminal as Manet's Musique aux Tuileries and, later, seated in the centre of the group as Manet paints his portrait in Henri Fantin-Latour's L'Atelier des Batignolles of 1870 (see fig. 1). The group portrayed in Fantin-Latour's painting includes Monet, Renoir, Zola, Manet and Bazille himself.
The composition and coloring of this work exhibit the typical style of Bazille's portraits. It moves beyond traditional ideas about perspective, balance, and symmetry, with bold brush strokes and unrefined aspects, such as Astruc's right hand, which presage the iconic style of the Impressionists. Bazille uses muted tones punctuated by touches of bright color, seen here in Astruc's somber clothes and a monochrome background highlighted by the flushed face of the sitter. François Daulte comments on this aspect of Bazille's style of portraiture: "This manner of painting gives rise to works whose sober harmonies are immediately striking, bursting with rare notes. Each one has an atmosphere, a dominant tonality, which is particular to itself. ... it is the dark, black clothes of Zacharie Astruc which accentuate the yellow hues of his face, his hands and the velvet of the armchair" (François Daulte, Frédéric Bazille et les débuts de l'impressionisme, Paris, 1992, p. 134, translated from the French).
Fig. 1 Henri Fantin-Latour, A Studio in the Batignolles District, 1870, oil on canvas, Paris, Musée d'Orsay