Frédéric Bazille had become enamored with painting at a young age after viewing art pieces produced by Eugène Delacroix. He was a wealthy young man with a keen talent for French Impressionist art, but his family insisted that he could only study art if he devoted himself to a career in medicine. He moved from his birthplace of Montpellier to Paris, in 1862, in order to continue his study of medicine in a university. His study of the arts was supposed to come secondary to medicine, yet he immersed himself in the Parisian art scene. He did remain in the university, but after failing his medical exam in 1864 he turned his full attention to painting.
Bazille had met and befriended Alfred Sisley and Pierre-Auguste Renoir shortly after he’d moved to Paris. He took part in classes given at the art studio owned by Charles Gleyre, giving himself over to the French Impressionist techniques he had found so appealing. Bazille’s wealth was a great asset, not only to himself, but to his new friends, as he allowed them to use his studio and art supplies as they needed. Claude Monet, Édouard Manet and Alfred Sisley were considered to be his close friends, and they continued to work together for some time.
The young artist was full of talent and it was a great loss when he died in the Battle of Beaune-la-Rolande during the Franco-Prussian War. The war had broken out in July 1870, and within a month of that Bazille signed up to become part of a Zouave regiment. During the battle his commanding officer was wounded and Bazille took the remaining members of his unit to retaliate against the Germans who were holding a position nearby. The attack was in vain and in the midst of fighting he was shot twice; Frederic Bazille died as young soldier on the battlefield at the age of twenty-nine, not given enough time in his life to produce more of his wonderful works of art.
Bazille preferred to paint landscapes en plain air, usually with a figure in the foreground. His works include The Pink Dress, which he painted when he was 23 years old, the Family Reunion (1867) and the View of the Village (1868). Some of his paintings, such as The Pink Dress, Family Reunion and Summer Bathers (1869), are scenes of his family members and friends, and they were usually painted at his family’s Meric estate in the French countryside.