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Overview

In 1867, Frédéric Bazille spent a month in Aigues-Mortes, a fortified medieval town in southern France. Renowned for its well-preserved ramparts and as the launching point for two Crusades, Aigues-Mortes is also conveniently located less than 20 miles from what was the Bazille family property outside Montpellier. 

Of the three paintings that Bazille is known to have completed during his sojourn, The Ramparts at Aigues-Mortes most clearly conveys the feel of a sun-drenched Provençal landscape. The sky and water, intersected by the ramparts, are dominated by brilliant blues, greens, and violets. These cool shades form a striking contrast to the warm ocher of the walls, which is echoed subtly in the earth in the foreground. A surviving sketchbook indicates that Bazille searched tirelessly for the perfect vantage point from which to represent the ramparts, but the apparent fluency in the painting’s execution suggests effortlessness rather than toil.

Inscription

lower left: F.Bazille.

Provenance

Marc Bazille, brother of the artist; his daughter, Mme Meynier de Salinelles-Bazille, Montpellier, by 1935 until at least 1949.[1] (sale, Palais Galliéra, Paris, 19 June 1963, unnumbered); purchased by (Hector Brame, Paris); sold 1963 to Paul Mellon, Upperville, VA;[2] gift 1985 to NGA.

Exhibition History
1910
Salon d'Automne, Grand Palais des Champs-Elysées, Paris, 1910, no. 12.
1935
Frederic Bazille, Association des Etudiants Protestants de Paris, Paris, 1935, no. 3, repro.
1936
Centenaire de Henri Fantin-Latour, Musée Bibliothèque de Grenoble, 1936, no. 507.
1949
Landscape in French Art, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1949, no. 251.
1950
Bazille, Wildenstein, Paris, 1950, no. 32.
1966
French Paintings from the Collections of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon and Mrs. Mellon Bruce, National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1966, no. 112, repro.
1973
French Paintings from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, 1973-1978, unnumbered checklist.
1986
Gifts to the Nation: Selected Acquisitions from the Collections of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon, National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1986, unnumbered checklist
1989
Impressionisti della National Gallery of Art di Washington, Ala Napoleonica e Museo Correr, Venice, and Palazzo Reale, Milan, 1989, unnumbered catalogue, repro.
1990
Französische Impressionisten und ihre Wegbereiter aus der National Gallery of Art, Washington und dem Cincinnati Art Museum, Neue Pinakothek, Munich, 1990, no. 37, repro.
1994
Origins of Impressionism, Galeries nationales d'Exposition du Grand Palais, Paris; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1994-1995, no. 6, fig. 112, repro. (shown only in New York).
1996
French and American Impressionists, Albany Museum of Art, Georgia, 1996, unnumbered cat., repro.
1999
Around Impressionism: French Paintings from the National Gallery of Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1999, no cat.
1999
Masterpieces from the National Gallery of Art, Washington, Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art; Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, 1999, no. 21, repro.
2003
Frédéric Bazille, Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris, 2003-2004, no. 13, repro.
2011
Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Masterpieces from the National Gallery of Art, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; The National Art Center, Tokyo; Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art, 2011, no. 3, repro.
2013
Impressionist France: Visions of Nation from Le Gray to Monet, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City; Saint Louis Art Museum, St. Louis, 2013 - 2014, no. 38.
Bibliography
1932
Poulain, Gaston. Bazille et ses amis. Paris, 1932: no. 21
1990
Französische Impressionisten und ihre Wegbereiter aus der National Gallery of Art, Washington und dem Cincinnati Art Museum, Exh. cat. Neue Pinakothek, Munich, 1990: no. 37, repro.
1992
Daulte, François. Frédéric Bazille et les débuts de l'impressionisme. Paris, 1992:no. 27, repro.
1993
Bajou, Valérie. Frédéric Bazille 1841-1870. Aix-en-Provence, 1993:107-108, repro. 126
1995
Schulman, Michel. Frédéric Bazille 1841-1870: Catalogue raisonné. Paris, 1995:no. 33, repro.
1998
Pitman, Dianne W. Bazille: Purity, Pose, and Painting in the 1860s. The Pennsylvania State University Press, 1998: 130-132, repro. no. 81.