Exhibitions/ Art Object

Porte de la Reine at Aigues-Mortes

Jean-Frédéric Bazille (French, Montpellier 1841–1870 Beaune-la-Rolande)
Oil on canvas
31 3/4 x 39 1/4 in. (80.6 x 99.7 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Gift of Raymonde Paul, in memory of her brother, C. Michael Paul, by exchange, 1988
Accession Number:
Not on view
During the late spring of 1867 Bazille visited the town of Aigues-Mortes near his family home in Montpellier. Hoping for "at least eight beautiful days," he set himself the challenge of painting "absolutely simple" landscapes of the city and surrounding marshes. Of the artist’s three known views of the area, this is the only one to show the massive medieval walls of Aigues-Mortes from up close. It also displays the most striking light effects: the southern sun shines brightly through the archway, contrasting with the afternoon shadows that envelop the grazing Camargue pony and the figures in the foreground.
Inscription: Signed and dated (lower right): F. Bazille 1867
Charles Jules Leenhardt, Montpellier (d. 1912); his sister-in-law Mme Elie Brunel, née Adrienne Pomier-Layrargues, Montpellier (d. 1927); her niece, Mme Emile Jules Castelnau, formerly Mme André Lehr, née Madeleine Pomier-Layrargues, Montpellier (in 1941; d. 1944); her daughter and son-in-law, Geneviève (née Lehr) and Henri Cazalis, Montpellier (by 1944–her d. 1953); Henri Cazalis, Montpellier (1953–d. 1979); his heirs (1979–81; sold to Wildenstein); [Wildenstein, Paris and New York, 1981–86; sold for $465,000 to Clore]; Alan Clore, Paris (1986–88; his sale, Christie's, London, June 27, 1988, no. 75, to MMA)
Exposition Internationale de Montpellier. "Rétrospective Bazille," May–June 1927, no. 13 (as "Aiguesmortes [la porte]") [see Poulain 1932].

Montpellier. Musée Fabre. "Centenaire de Frédéric Bazille," May–June 1941, no. 20 (as "Porte d'Aiguesmortes," lent by Madame Castelnau).

Paris. Wildenstein & Co., Inc. "Bazille," June–July 1950, no. 31 (as "La Porte de la Reine à Aigues-Mortes").

Montpellier. Musée Fabre. "Frédéric Bazille," October 13–31, 1959, no. 20 (as "Porte de la Reine à Aiguesmortes," lent by M. H. Cazalis-Lehr, Montpellier).

Art Institute of Chicago. "Frédéric Bazille and Early Impressionism," March 4–April 30, 1978, no. 21 (as "Porte d'Aigues-Mortes," lent by a private collector).

Lausanne. Fondation de l'Hermitage. "L'Impressionnisme dans les collections romandes," June 17–October 21, 1984, no. 24 (as "'Porte d'Aigues-Mortes,' dite 'Porte de la Reine,'" lent by a private collection, Lausanne).

Edinburgh. National Gallery of Scotland. "Lighting up the Landscape: French Impressionism and its Origins," August 1–October 19, 1986, no. 75 (as "Gate at Aigues-Mortes," lent by a private collection, New York).

Montpellier. Pavillon du musée Fabre. "Frédéric Bazille," July 9–October 4, 1992, no. 15.

Brooklyn Museum. "Frédéric Bazille," November 13, 1992–January 24, 1993, no. 15.

Memphis, Tenn. Dixon Gallery and Gardens. "Frédéric Bazille," February 14–April 25, 1993, no. 15.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Origins of Impressionism," September 27, 1994–January 8, 1995, no. 7.

Atlanta. High Museum of Art. "Monet and Bazille: A Collaboration," February 23–May 16, 1999, no. 16 (as "The Queen's Gate at Aigues-Mortes").

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Philippe de Montebello Years: Curators Celebrate Three Decades of Acquisitions," October 24, 2008–February 1, 2009, online catalogue.

Kansas City, Mo. Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. "Impressionist France: Visions of Nation from Le Gray to Monet," October 19, 2013–February 9, 2014, no. 39.

Saint Louis Art Museum. "Impressionist France: Visions of Nation from Le Gray to Monet," March 16–July 6, 2014, no. 39.

Montpellier. Musée Fabre. "Frédéric Bazille, la jeunesse de l'impressionnisme," June 25–October 16, 2016, no. 37.

Paris. Musée d'Orsay. "Frédéric Bazille, la jeunesse de l'impressionnisme," November 15, 2016–March 5, 2017, no. 37.

National Gallery of Art, Washington. "Frédéric Bazille (1841–1870) and the Birth of Impressionism," April 9–July 9, 2017, no. 37.

Jean-Frédéric Bazille. Letter to his mother. [late May 1867] [published in Didier Vatuone, ed., "Frédéric Bazille: Correspondance," Montpellier, 1992, p. 142, no. 94 ], reports that he has started three or four landscapes near Aigues-Mortes.

Gaston Poulain. Bazille et ses amis. Paris, 1932, pp. 86–88, 214, no. 20, as "Porte fortifiée" in the text and "Porte d'Aiguesmortes" in the list of works; remarks that the landscapes of Aigues-Mortes with their depiction of summer light mark a change in Bazille's palette; locates it in the collection of Mme Brunel, Montpellier, and notes its inclusion in Bazille's 1927 retrospective exhibition [Exh. Montpellier 1927].

Gaston Poulain. "Le Visage des pays de France vu par nos artistes: VII. Le Languedoc." L'Art et les artistes 28 (June 1934), p. 317, calls it "Porte".

Augustin Fliche and Pierre Jourda. Languedoc. Montpellier, 1948, pl. IV [see Schulman 1995].

Gabriel Sarraute. "Le Peintre de l'été languedocien." Arts de France no. 31 (June 9, 1950) [see Ref. Pitman 1992].

François Daulte. Frédéric Bazille et son temps. Geneva, 1952, pp. 62, 112, 175, no. 23, ill., calls it "Porte d'Aiguesmortes"; mentions several pencil studies for the horses and figures (Musée du Louvre, Paris).

François Daulte. "Bazille: son œuvre s'achève en 1870." Connaissance des arts no. 226 (December 1970), p. 87 [reprinted in English in "Réalités" no. 249 (August 1971), p. 32], notes that the walled city of Aigues-Mortes inspired Bazille's three landscapes of June 1867 [our picture; National Gallery of Art, Washington and Musée Fabre, Montpellier, Schulman nos. 33, 34].

Kermit Swiler Champa. Studies in Early Impressionism. New Haven, 1973, pp. 86-87, fig. 121, as "The Gate of the Queen at Aiguesmortes"; states that with his three views of Aigues-Mortes, "Bazille successfully adopted the style of Monet's work from early 1867 and added to it the heavier and more liquid paint quality of Manet".

J. Patrice Marandel in Frédéric Bazille and Early Impressionism. Exh. cat., Art Institute of Chicago. Chicago, 1978, pp. 62–63, 176, no. 21, ill., reproduces four sketches for this picture (Louvre).

François Daulte. "Une grande amitié: Edmond Maître et Frédéric Bazille." L'Oeil no. 273 (April 1978), p. 42, ill.

François Daulte. L'Impressionnisme dans les collections romandes. Exh. cat., Fondation de l'Hermitage. Lausanne, 1984, pp. 10, 145, no. 24, ill. (color and black and white).

Aleth Jourdan in Courbet à Montpellier. Exh. cat., Musée Fabre. Montpellier, 1985, p. 67, under no. 37.

David Howarth. "An Army in the Field: 'Lighting up the Landscape'." Country Life 180 (August 14, 1986), p. 518, fig. 1.

Michael Clarke. Lighting up the Landscape: French Impressionism and its Origins. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Scotland. Edinburgh, 1986, p. 66, no. 75, obeserves that the handling of the two figures on the left recall Monet.

Souren Melikian. "At the Art Sales, Prices Take Off." International Herald Tribune (July 2–3, 1988), p. 6.

Dianne Williams Pitman. "The Art of Frédéric Bazille (1841–1870)." PhD diss., Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, 1989, pp. 83–84, 334 n. 185, fig. 36, compares it to Corot's "Dinan, porte du Jerzual" (1860, Musée du Louvre, Paris), which Bazille may have known, noting that unlike the Corot, our picture "projects itself toward us, as if the traditional landscape structure had been turned inside out".

Gary Tinterow in "Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 1988–1989." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 47 (Fall 1989), p. 34, ill. (color), calls it "the most striking of Bazille's three known views of Aigues-Mortes, and the most daring"; interprets this picture as the one Bazille [Ref. 1867] referred to as the large canvas on which he intended to paint the walled city reflected in a pond [see Ref. Tinterow and Loyrette 1994].

Everett Fahy. "Selected Acquisitions of European Paintings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1987–1991." Burlington Magazine 133 (November 1991), p. 806, colorpl. X.

François Daulte. Frédéric Bazille et les débuts de l'impressionnisme: Catalogue raisonné de l'œuvre peint. Paris, 1992, pp. 58, 107, 110, 164, no. 26, ill. (color and black and white), as "La Porte de la Reine à Aigues-Mortes"; dates all three views of Aigues-Mortes to June 1867 and places this work first in the series.

Dianne Pitman in Frédéric Bazille: Prophet of Impressionism. Exh. cat., Pavillion du Musée Fabre, Montpellier. New York, 1992, pp. 98–99, 175, no. 15, ill., notes that this picture depicts "a fascinating first occurrence of the sunlit background and shaded foreground which reappeared in almost all of the painter's large landscapes with figures".

François-Bernard Michel. Frédéric Bazille. Paris, 1992, p. 145.

Valérie Bajou. Frédéric Bazille: 1841–1870. Aix-en-Provence, 1993, pp. 106–7, fig. 69 (color).

Gary Tinterow and Henri Loyrette. Origins of Impressionism. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1994, pp. 82, 296, 318, 332, no. 7, ill. p. 332 and fig. 113 (color), identify the street glimpsed through the gate as the rue Émile Jamais; remark that in the Aigues-Mortes landscapes "Bazille found his response to the urban scenes that his friends Monet and Renoir had painted the previous month".

Pascal Bonafoux. Bazille: Les Plaisirs et les jours. Paris, 1994, pp. 56–57, ill. (color).

John House. Landscapes of France: Impressionism and Its Rivals. Exh. cat., Hayward Gallery. London, 1995, p. 182, under no. 59, asserts that none of Bazille's drawings of Aigues-Mortes correspond to any of the three paintings and that the paintings themselves were probably created in the open air.

Michel Schulman. Frédéric Bazille, 1841–1870: Catalogue raisonné, Peintures—Dessins, pastels, aquarelles. Paris, 1995, pp. 60, 153–54, 156–57, 160, 215, 293–94, 297, 301, 358, no. 32, ill. (color), notes that it represents one of ten gates in the city walls; identifies the first owner of this picture as Jules Leenhardt.

Dianne W. Pitman in Monet & Bazille: A Collaboration. Ed. David A. Brenneman. Exh. cat., High Museum of Art. Atlanta, 1998, pp. 53, 106, no. 16, ill. pp. 18, 54 (color, overall and detail), asserts that the view of the street in this picture was borrowed from the composition of Monet's "Rue de la Bavolle, Honfleur" (1866; two versions in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and the Städtische Kunsthalle, Mannheim).

Phaedra Siebert in Monet & Bazille: A Collaboration. Ed. David A. Brenneman. Exh. cat., High Museum of Art. Atlanta, 1998, p. 99.

Dianne W. Pitman. Bazille: Purity, Pose, and Painting in the 1860s. University Park, Pa., 1998, pp. 132–34, 219, fig. 82.

Karen Wilkin. "Homage at the Metropolitan." New Criterion 27 (December 2008), p. 7.

Simon Kelly in Impressionist France: Visions of Nation from Le Gray to Monet. Exh. cat., Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Mo. St. Louis, 2013, pp. 25, 142, 144–45, no. 39, ill. (color).

Sydney Norton in Impressionist France: Visions of Nation from Le Gray to Monet. Exh. cat., Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Mo. St. Louis, 2013, p. 302.

April M. Watson in Impressionist France: Visions of Nation from Le Gray to Monet. Exh. cat., Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Mo. St. Louis, 2013, p. 140.

Studies for the grazing horse and the little girl sitting on the grass appear in one of Bazille's sketchbooks now preserved in the Cabinet des Dessins, Musée du Louvre, Paris.
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