Thursday, November 5, 2009

the lost impressionist, Frédéric Bazille

Frédéric is no longer lost to us, for in the past 25 years several art historians have written books about him and a number of museums borrowed his work for special exhibitions. But though it was his idea to gather his struggling artist friends Claude Monet, Auguste Renoir and others into a private exhibition, fate intervened and the first exhibition of the impressionists went on without him. He came to Paris from a wealthy family in Montpellier on the promise that he would attend medical school and paint on the side. After months and years of writing his parents that his school exams had once more been inexplicably postponed, he gave himself up to full time painting.

Frédéric was a great friend and when the others had no place to crash, they slept on his floor. "My studio is full of needy painters," he wrote home happily. "Monet is the best of us." The genial, helpful Frédéric is the third major character in my novel CLAUDE AND CAMILLE: A NOVEL OF MONET (Crown, April 2010). His painting shown here - View of the Village of Castelnau-le-Lez - was created when he was 27 years old.


  1. Stephanie,

    I so love the character of Frederic in your novel. I am also interested in learning more about the historical Frederic. Do you have any suggestions about where I (and other followers) can get more info?

  2. There are several books about Frederic, some of which I have listed in the notes in the back of CLAUDE & CAMILLE. You can look them up on Amazon. It is very interesting to read his letters home to his parents; one can just sense there are so many things he is NOT telling them about his life in Paris. It is so vivid when he talks about his friend Monet "who is the best of us" gets such a sense of their daily lives.