Artist: Jean Frederic Bazille
Museum: Musée d'Orsay (Paris, France)
Réunion de famille also called Portraits de famille (Family Reunion also called Family Portraits) which he completed in 1867 and altered slightly two years later. It is a large painting, measuring 152cms x 230cms. The subject of the work is an extended family gathering at Bazille’s family’s country estate at Méric, near Montpellier during the summer of 1867. The sun is shining brightly but the people are safeguarded from the harsh rays of the sun by the very large tree on the terrace, the foliage of which filters the sunlight, which allows the artist to cleverly depict the very sophisticated light and shadow effects against the subjects, their clothing and surroundings. Look at the strong contrasts of the bright colours between that of the landscape and the sky in comparison to the shaded areas under the tree. As the sunlight manages to filter through the leaves it manages to light up some of the pale clothing contrasting it against the darkness of the jackets, shawl and apron. It illustrates how Bazille’s liked painting in the light of the South of France. In this painting, Bazille has depicted various figures in a tableaux-type style. Although there is a peaceful feeling about this depiction, it is just a group of figures. There is a lack of interaction between the family members with all the figures stiffly-posed and all, except the father, looking towards us as if we were the photographer recording this family get-together. The photographer aspect of this painting may not be as far-fetched as it seems as it is known that around about this time Frédéric’s brother Marc married Suzanne Tissié and it could well be that Frédéric was in some ways recording the family get-together a few days after this wedding. There is an air of confidence about the demeanours of the people depicted, which probably came with their affluent status in society. In the picture Bazille has included ten extended family members and he even added himself in the painting. He is not in a prominent position. He has squeezed himself into the far left of the painting, which may infer that he was somewhat reluctant to include himself. Next to him stands his uncle by marriage, Gabriel des Hours-Farel. Seated on a bench with their back to him is his mother, Camille, and father, Gaston, whilst at the table is his aunt, his mother’s sister, Élisa des Hours-Farel and her daughter Juliette Thérèse. Standing by the trunk of the tree with their arms linked are Bazille’s cousin Thérèse Teulon-Valio, the married daughter of Gabriel and Élisa des Hours-Farel, and her husband, Emile. On the right of the painting, standing by the terrace wall is Marc Bazille, Frédéric’s brother with his wife of a few days, Suzanne Tissié and his sister Suzanne. The Bazille and des Hours families used to spend every summer on the magnificent estate of Méric, in Castelnau-le-Lez, a village near Montpellier. The house and its grounds were slightly higher up, overlooking the village.