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Berth Morisot painting Eugene Manet and her Daughter Julie at the Jardin à Bougival, 1881

Berthe Morisot: A Remarkable Impressionist Artist.

Who is Berthe Marie Pauline Morisot?

Berthe Marie Pauline Morisot ( was a pioneering French painter and one of the leading figures of the Impressionist movement.

Berthe Morisot Childhood

Berthe Morisot was born to Edmé Tiburce Morisot and Marie-Joséphine-Cornélie Thomas in Bourges, France, in 1841. Her father worked as a senior administrator for the local government. Her mother was related to the Rococo painter Jean-Honore Fragonard. Morisot had two older sisters, Yves and Edma, and also a younger brother Tiburce. In 1852, the family moved to Paris, where Morisot would live for the rest of her life.

Her family encouraged their daughters to take art lessons. They didn’t however expected their daughter to make a career of what they hope to be a hobby. However Morisot showed an early talent for art and received formal training in painting from established artists.

Early Years

Berthe and Edma Morisot copied works by the Old Masters at the Louvre Museum in the late 1850s under the tutelage of Joseph Guichard. From 1862 to 1868 she worked under the guidance of Camille Corot. Sometime later, Edma married a naval officer and moved away to have children.

She first exhibited paintings at the Salon in 1864 at the age of 23. Her work was exhibited there regularly through 1874,

In 1868, fellow artist Henri Fantin-Latour introduced Édouard Manet to Morisot, who would become her mentor, close friend, and eventually her brother-in-law. She later settled in Paris, where she associated with prominent artists of the time. Manet painted Morisot 12 times, making her his most frequent subject.

In 1874, when she was 33 years old, she married Manet’s younger brother, Eugène, a writer and painter. Rumors of the time suggested that theirs was a marriage of convenience, as Morisot couldn’t marry the older Manet, who was already married. Eugène was also an artist but agreed to give up his care to support and promote his wife entirely.

In 1878, Berthe and Eugène welcomed their daughter, Julie Manet, who became the primary subject of many of her mother’s paintings. Morisot consistently depicted her daughter and husband in her artwork. Additionally, as a child, Julie posed for several other renowned painters, including Manet and Renoir.

Morisot Style

Morisot was known for her mastery of light, color, and brushwork, capturing everyday life with a fresh perspective. She often depicted intimate moments of domestic life, including portraits of women and children, as well as outdoor scenes featuring gardens and landscapes. Her work demonstrated a keen sensitivity to atmosphere and emotion, and her loose, expressive brushstrokes exemplified the essence of Impressionism.

In the male-dominated art world of the 19th century, Morisot, as a woman artist, faced numerous challenges and prejudices. She was barred from portraying subjects like cabarets, cafés, bars, and brothels. However, her paintings depicted various aspects of feminine life in the late 19th century, showcasing private and intimate moments typically inaccessible to her male counterparts. Despite these obstacles, she persevered and made significant strides in her art, challenging traditional conventions and pushing boundaries.

Morisot’s involvement in the Impressionist exhibitions, alongside male artists like Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Edgar Degas, helped elevate her status and solidify her reputation as a talented painter. Her unique perspective as a woman artist brought a fresh sensibility to the Impressionist movement, offering a nuanced portrayal of female subjects and domestic scenes that resonated with audiences.

Her delicate touch and subtle use of color set her apart, earning her acclaim and recognition during her lifetime. Morisot’s contributions to the art world paved the way for future generations of women artists, inspiring them to pursue their creative passions and challenge societal norms.

Morisot Art.

Berthe Morisot created a significant body of work during her career, with many of her paintings now held in prestigious art institutions around the world. Some of her most well-known artworks include:

1. “The Cradle” (1872) – This intimate and tender portrait of a mother and child encapsulates Morisot’s ability to capture everyday moments with sensitivity and grace. It is now housed in the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, France.

The Cradle is arguably Berthe Morisot’s most famous painting. It depicts Morisot’s sister Edma gazing down at her daughter Blanche, who is asleep in a cradle behind a gauzy veil. This relatively early work is the first example of Morisot’s treatment of the theme of motherhood, which would become a recurring subject in her work,

2. “Summer’s Day” (1879) – This painting depicts two elegantly dressed women in a garden setting, bathed in dappled sunlight. It is part of the collection at the National Gallery in London, United Kingdom.

3. “Eugène Manet on the Isle of Wight” (1875) is a portrait of her husband Eugène Manet. The painting showcases Morisot’s skill in capturing the essence of her subjects. It can be found at the Musée Marmottan Monet in Paris.

Morisot and Cassatt

One of Morisot’s notable contemporaries was Mary Cassatt, an American painter who also played a significant role in the Impressionist movement. Cassatt and Morisot shared a similar interest in portraying intimate moments of daily life, particularly highlighting the experiences of women and children.

Their friendship and artistic collaboration enriched both of their works, setting an example of mutual support and camaraderie among women artists in a predominantly male art world.

Morisot Later Years.

She was never commercially successful during her lifetime, yet she outsold Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Alfred Sisley. She was a woman of great culture and charm, and she counted among her close friends Stéphane Mallarmé, Edgar Degas, Charles Baudelaire, Émile Zola, Emmanuel Chabrier, Renoir, and Monet.

1891 Eugène Manet suffered poor health and finally died in Paris the following year. Three years later, their daughter Julie contracted pneumonia. Morisot nursed her back to health but caught the illness herself and eventually died on March 2, 1895.

After her death the poet Paul Valery wrote that “Berthe Morisot’s uniqueness was to ‘live’ her painting, and to paint her life […] she took up, put down, returned to her brush like a thought that comes to us, is clean forgotten, then occurs to us once again.

Final Tought.

The story of Berthe Morisot and Manet’s intimate relationship leaves a lot of gaps. It is recognized that Manet was the master and Morisot the student, and their art must have greatly benefited from their close friendship. Even though Manet is a recognized famous painter, and Morisot’s legacy is less known, her defiance of conventions, challenges to stereotypes, and reshaping of the artistic landscape of her time are noteworthy.

Morisot was a strong encouraging influence on female Impressionist painters living in Paris at the time, such as Mary Cassatt and Eva Gonzalès. Today she is still a great inspiration to artist of all gender, and her work is rediscovered by the public.

Berthe Morisot Collection.

Sibel Meydan Johnson

Born in Turkey, Sibel Meydan Johnson lived and studied in Mons Belgium most of her life. She graduated with honors with a major in Liberal Arts. In 1990 Sibel left her hometown for New York City. She worked for several years as a production assistant for " En Plein Air Masters" one of the first online plein air artists mentor programs then as director of production for Brush With Life TV’s series on visual art. Today Sibel is an autodidact painter, Freelance writer specializing in art and the business of art. Mother and wife, she is a full-time artist. Sibel's art captures and brings forth the hidden emotion of his subjects and evoke a sense of curiosity and introspection pushing the boundaries of creativity and expression, her work often combines elements of abstraction and realism, creating a unique and captivating visual experience that sometimes disturb the viewers.

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