The Improvised Field Hospital Frederic Bazille Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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The Improvised Field Hospital, or L'ambulance improvisée, also known as Monet after his Accident at the Inn of Chailly, is an 1865 painting by Frédéric Bazille, the famous French painter. The painting depicts Claude Monet, another famous French painter and the founder of the French impressionist school of painting, recuperating from a leg injury.

Bazille was closely associated with Monet, and his depiction of Monet recovering after his leg injury is a realistic description of the events as it unfolded in the summer of 1865. Bazille had come to Paris in 1862, to continue his studies in medicine. He shared a studio with Monet, and soon came under the influence of the impressionist painters of the time. He spent his time at the School of Fine Arts, and struck up a friendship with notable impressionist painters such as Renoir and Sisley, besides Monet.

In the spring of 1865, Monet proceeded to the forests of Fontainebleau in Chailly, for his Déjeuner sur l'herbe. Monet urged Bazille to join him as a model. When Monet arrived, towards the start of the summer, Monet broke his leg in an accident, and stopped his work. He was struck in his hotel room, unable to move his leg, and his hotel room became the improvised field hospital.

The Improvised Field Hospital is typical of Bazille's characteristic style, with fixed and motionless characters. The style perfectly resonates with the theme of the painting, with Monet being unable to move from his bed. Bazille's attention to detail is striking. Bazille, drawing on his experience as a medical student, he constructed a contraption, with a counterweight suspended from two ropes and blankets piled up under the broken leg, to make Monet comfortable. All these detail field immaculate expression in the painting.

Most of Bazille's work fall midway between Courbet's Realism and the nascent Impressionism of the times. The untidy bed, and Monet's facial expression depicting despondency is extremely striking. Bazille's powerful strokes have also succeeded in depicting the strong bond of friendship that existed between the painter and the object. Bazille was just 24 years old when he painted this masterpiece. The Improvised Field Hospital is displayed in Musée d'Orsay, Paris, since 1986.