Bazille was from a prosperous family in the Montpellier region of France and showed generosity towards his less affluent contemporaries by allocating space in his studio and materials to use. The painting of The Beach at Sainte-Adresse was created in 1865 and is a classic example of impressionism capturing many of the qualities of movement and light that the genre became famous for, and the painting now resides in the U.S. High Museum of Art in Atlanta.
Bazille had agreed to study medicine in conjunction with art as this was the only way his parents would allow him to develop his artistic skills. However, after failing his medical exam in 1864 he started to paint full-time and developed his style more comprehensively by studying in the studio of Charles Gleyre. Impressionism was renowned for a more open style of painting with an emphasis on capturing light quality and a sense of movement.
The seacape of the beach at Sainte-Adresse is typical of impressionism but retains Bazille's own particular style which was slightly more moderate than some of his peers. The waves have an intriguing light sheen and seem to be almost moving, and the picture also depicts the 'plein air' style which was also a key feature of the time. This style involved painting outdoors in order to capture natural scenes and lighting and was a move away from the type of studio painting that entailed following set rules to create a pre-determined look.
The painting of the beach scene was an artwork created by Bazille for his uncle and depicts Sainte-Adresse in Normandy. Bazille had visited the area with his fellow artist, Claude Monet, who was originally from this region, and the painting was fully finished in his studio about a year after their visit and shows a figure on the left of the windswept scene with the boat heading towards the shore. Bazille was very much influenced by Monet at this time, and the painting also shows how the artist was still developing some of the impressionist qualities of his work at this period in his career. Monet also painted the epic work Garden at Sainte-Adresse.