Visual Art Impressionist Fact of the Day
posted by June 25 at 11:00 AMon
Let’s stick with Bazille, the friend Monet should be more grateful for. He’s unfortunate again, this time with the ladies. At least the dancers seem to warm up to him.
Bazille’s mother attempted to capitalise on all the social celebrations by putting her son in touch with a young lady, up from Montpellier for the Exposition. But the introduction was not a success. ‘If I were a few years younger and had a few more hairs on my head … ’ he ruefully explained (he was twenty-seven). He had made a far more diverting discovery: the wings of the Opéra. ‘Don’t worry,’ he assured his mother. ‘I bring to it all the necessary objectivity, don’t be alarmed.’ The Paris Opéra was glamorous, gilded and spectacular, dazzling with opulence in the shimmering gaslight. But backstage was another world: cold, grimy, and inhabited by ‘dirty machinists, very dumb musicians, a very old [choreographer] Monsieur Auber, and everyone only thinks about getting her job done as quickly as possible to earn a living.’ Bazille was spellbound, chatting with the dancers about their high rents, their dogs and their cats, and fascinated to discover that none of them had a clue what was happening on stage except when she had to go on, and none had ever really thought about why she danced.
From Sue Roe’s The Private Lives of Impressionists, a slightly trashy book I’m reading in honor of the SAM show.
I couldn’t find any paintings of dancers by Bazille, but here is his “objective” view of three women, Toilet, from 1869-70.