Born into a notable family in Montpellier, Bazille moved to Paris in 1862 to study medicine, before turning to painting. While at Charles Gleyre's studio, he became friends with Monet, Renoir and Sisley who shared his admiration for Manet. Bazille's Studio allows a glimpse of the relationships and intimacy uniting these precursor artists.
The scene is set in the studio in the rue de la Condamine which Bazille shared with Renoir from January 1st 1868 to May 15th 1870. Bazille is in the centre, a palette in his hand. But as he wrote in a letter to his father: "Manet painted me in". One can in fact see Manet's vigorous style in the tall, slim figure of the young man. And indeed, Manet, wearing a hat, is looking at the canvas placed on the easel. On the right, Edmond Maître, a friend of Bazille, is seated at the piano. Above him, a still life by Monet is a reminder that Bazille helped him financially by buying his work. The three characters on the left are more difficult to identify – possibly Monet, Renoir or even Zacharie Astruc... By surrounding Manet and his admirers with some of his paintings that were refused by the Salon, such as The Toilette (Montpellier, Musée Fabre) above the sofa, and Fisherman with a Net (Zürich, Fondation Rau) higher up on the left, and even more realistically Renoir's "landscape with two people" rejected at the 1866 Salon (the large, framed canvas to the right of the window), Bazille is expressing his criticism of the Academy, and affirming his own vision of art. His death in combat some months later, during the Franco-Prussian war, made this work a moving testament.