RENOIR, Pierre-Auguste
(b, 1841, Limoges, d. 1919, Cagnes-sur-Mer)

Frédéric Bazille at His Easel

Oil on canvas, 105 x 76 cm
Musée d'Orsay, Paris

Renoir and Bazille met in November 1862 in the studio of Charles Gleyre, where they attended drawing classes along with Monet and Sisley. The four pupils quickly became friends and left Gleyre in the spring of 1863 in order to devote themselves entirely to open-air painting. The next summer Bazille moved into a studio in Paris and shared it with Renoir. Toward the end of 1867, Bazille painted his friend in a nonchalant attitude with his feet up on the seat of his chair. The painting remained in Renoir's possession for the rest of his life.

Renoir reciprocated by painting a picture of his friend in their studio. Bazille is at his easel, leaning forward slightly with his legs crossed, working on a still-life of dead birds. On the wall behind him is a winter landscape by Claude Monet with a view of Honfleur. The predominant colours in the picture are gray and beige.

Despite their differences, one factor is common in these paintings: they depict what appears to be a random moment in everyday life and avoid any semblance of a posed composition.