Frederic Bazille (1841-1870) was painting down on his parents’ ancestral estate near Montpelier in the south of France when the Franco-Prussian War broke out in 1870. A close friend of Manet, Renoir, and Monet, Bazille was a prime mover in the so-called Batignolles group, named after the area in Paris’s Right Bank where their members, led by Manet, used to meet.
Down in the country, things were really happening for Bazille. He was growing daily in confidence. He was loosening up. He was, above all, letting in sunlight — the kind of bright light that carves through foliage, blocks out stark shadows, leaves bare skin soapy with sweat. This penchant for capturing bright outdoor light became so notable that art historians now look on his paintings as vital heralds of Impressionism.