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upper left: F. Bazille. 1869

Provenance

The sitter, Edmond Maître [d. 1898]; his brother, Léon Maître.[1] André Bazille, nephew of artist, from at least 1935 until 1941; Mme Rachou-Bazille, in 1959.[2] (Wildenstein, London, New York and Paris); sold August 1960 to Paul Mellon, Upperville, VA;[3] gift 1985 to NGA.

Exhibition History
1935
Frederic Bazille, Association des Etudiants Protestants de Paris, Paris, 1935, no. 6, repro.
1937
Chefs d'oeuvres de l'art français, Palais National des Arts, Paris, 1937, no. 240
1941
Centenaire de Frédéric Bazille, Musée Fabre, Montpellier, 1941, no. 29
1950
Bazille, Wildenstein, Paris, 1950, no. 50
1952
Cent portraits d'hommes du XVIe siècle a nos jours, Galerie Charpentier, Paris, 1952, no. 1
1959
Frédéric Bazille, Musée Fabre, Montpellier, 1959, no. 34
1962
Artmobile II ("Twelve Portraits: Delacroix to Gauguin"), sponsored by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, 1962, no. 11
1962
Delacroix to Gauguin: Ten Portraits, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, 1962
1966
French Paintings from the Collections of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon and Mrs. Mellon Bruce, National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1966, no. 111, repro.
1978
Frederic Bazille and Early Impressionism, Art Institute of Chicago, 1978, no. 37, repro.
1986
Gifts to the Nation: Selected Acquisitions from the Collections of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon, National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1986, unnumbered checklist
1990
Französische Impressionisten und ihre Wegbereiter aus der National Gallery of Art, Washington und dem Cincinnati Art Museum, Neue Pinakothek, Munich, 1990, no. 38, repro.
1992
Frédéric Bazille et Ses Amis Impressionnistes, Pavillon du musée Fabre, Montpelier, France; Brooklyn Museum; Dixon Gallery & Gardens, Memphis, 1992-1993, no. 23, 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. 22, repro.
2003
Frédéric Bazille, Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris, 2003-2004, no. 21, 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. 1, repro.
Bibliography
1966
Goldwater, Robert. "The Glory that was France." Art News 65 (March 1966):42.
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. 38, repro.
1992
Daulte, François. Frédéric Bazille et les débuts de l'impressionisme. Paris, 1992:no. 52, repro.
1993
Bajou, Valérie. Frédéric Bazille 1841-1870. Aix-en-Provence, 1993:139-140, repro. 155
1995
Schulman, Michel. Frédéric Bazille 1841-1870: Catalogue raisonné. Paris, 1995:no. 48, repro.
1998
Pitman, Dianne W. Bazille: Purity, Pose, and Painting in the 1860s. The Pennsylvania State University Press, 1998: 185-187, repro. no. 123.
Technical Summary

With similar upper-class upbringings and a common interest in the arts—especially a shared passion for music—Frédéric Bazille and Edmond Maître became fast friends after meeting in Paris in 1865.

Dissatisfied with a frontal, bust-length portrait he had made of Maître as part of a larger composition two years earlier, Bazille adopted a different approach for this more intimate depiction of his friend as a quintessential dilettante. Seen in full profile, with his body turned at an angle relative to the placement of the chair, Maître has just a hint of a slouch as he peers down at the book resting open in his lap. Absorbed in his reading, he is careless of the cigar slowly burning to ash in his right hand. Elegantly but somewhat unconventionally attired, Maître’s warm brown trousers and dark blue, dotted, silk tie counterbalance the severity of his black jacket. A sprig of violets tucked into his lapel adds a note of color to the otherwise somber composition.