In June 1870, Bazille informed his father “I have just about finished a large landscape (eclogue).” Two weeks later he enlisted in the French army to serve during the Franco–Prussian War and died in combat near Orléans in November. Landscape by the River Lez is the “large landscape” mentioned in Bazille’s correspondence, and his specific reference to it as an “eclogue” has prompted speculation as to his intent. Bazille would have known that an eclogue was an idyllic poem in the form of a conversation between rustics in an Arcadian landscape. In its radiance and quiescence, this composition, although lacking figures, certainly conforms to the tradition of bucolic landscapes.
Credit Line: Text courtesy of the Minneapolis Institute of Art (CC BY 3.0).