Berthe Morisot


Berthe Morisot, The Cradle, 1872, Muse d’Orsay

Morisot was born in Bourges, Cher, France into a successful bourgeois family. Both she and her sister, Edma Morisot, chose to become painters. Once Berthe Morisot settled on pursuing art, her family did not impede her career.

She was born into a family that, according to family tradition, had included one of the most prolific Rococo painters of the ancien rgime, Fragonard, whose handling of color and expressive, confident brushwork influenced later painters. By age twenty, she had met and befriended the important, and pivotal, landscape painter of the Barbizon School, Camille Corot, who excelled in figure painting as well.

The older artist instructed Berthe and her sister in painting and introduced them to other artists and teachers. Under Corot’s influence, Morisot took up the plein air method of working. As art students, Berthe and Edma worked closely together until Edma married, had children, and no longer had time to paint so intensely as Berthe. Letters between them show a loving and cordial relationship, underscored by Berthe’s regret at the distance between them and about Edma’s withdrawal from painting. Edma wholeheartedly supported Berthe’s continued work and the families of the two sisters always remained close.

Manet and impressionism

Berthe Morisot, Grain field, Muse d’Orsay

Morisot’s first appearance in the Salon de Paris came at the age of twenty-three in 1864, with the acceptance of two landscape paintings. She continued to show regularly in the Salon, to generally favorable reviews, until 1873, the year before the first Impressionist exhibition.

Berthe Morisot, L’Enfant au Tablier Rouge, a sketch

Meanwhile, in 1868 Morisot became acquainted with douard Manet. He took a special interest in Morisot, as is evident from his warm portrayal of her in several paintings, including a striking portrait study of Morisot in a black veil, while in mourning for her father’s death (displayed at the top of the article). Correspondence between them bespeaks affection. He once gave her an easel as a Christmas present. He also interfered in one of her Salon submissions when he was engaged to transport it. Manet mistook one of Morisot’s self-criticisms as an invitation to add his corrections, which he did, much to Morisot’s dismay.

Although traditionally Manet has been related as the master and Morisot as the follower, there is evidence that their relationship was a reciprocating one. Morisot had developed her own distinctive artistic style. Records of paintings show Manet’s approval and appreciation of certain stylistic and compositional decisions that Morisot originated. He incorporated some of these characteristics into his own work.

Berthe Morisot, Child among Staked Roses, 1881, Wallraf-Richartz Museum, Cologne

It was Morisot who convinced Manet to attempt plein air painting, which she had been practicing since having been introduced to it by Corot.
She also drew Manet into the circle of painters who soon became known as the Impressionists. In 1874, Morisot married Manet’s brother, Eugene, and they had one daughter, Julie. Julie Manet became the subject for many of her mother’s paintings and a book of her memoirs Growing Up with the Impressionists: The Diary of Julie Manet, was published in 1987.

As a doctrinaire Impressionist as well as a member of the haute bourgeoisie, Morisot painted what she experienced on a daily basis. Her paintings reflect the 19th century cultural restrictions of her class and gender. She avoided urban and street scenes as well as the nude figure and, like her fellow female Impressionist Mary Cassatt, focused on domestic life and portraits in which she could use family and personal friends as models. Paintings like The Cradle (1872), in which she depicted current trends for nursery furniture, reflect her sensitivity to fashion and advertising, both of which would have been apparent to her female audience.

Her works include not only landscapes, portraits, garden settings and boating scenes, but also subjects portraying the comfort and intimacy of family and domestic life, as did her colleagues, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Mary Cassatt.

Berthe Morisot died on March 2, 1895 in Paris and was interred in the Cimetire de Passy.


The Harbor at Lorient, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC 1869

The Mother and Sister of the Artist (Reading), National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC c.1869-70

On the Balcony, New York 1872

Reading, Cleveland Museum of Art 1873

Chasing Butterflies, Muse d’Orsay, Paris 1874

At the Ball, Muse Marmottan Monet, Paris 1875

Lady at her Toilette, The Art Institute of Chicago 1875

Eugene Manet on the Isle of Wight, Private Collection 1875

The Dining Room, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC c. 1875

Summer Day National Gallery, London 1879

Winter aka Woman with a Muff, Dallas Museum of Arts 1880

Dame a L’ombrelle 1881

Rose Trmire, Muse Marmottan Monet, Paris, 1884

Young Girl with Cage, 1885

The Bath (Girl Arranging Her Hair), Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts 1885-86

Julie Manet et son Lvrier Laerte, Muse Marmottan Monet, Paris 1893

See also

Women artists

Western painting

History of painting

Julie Manet


^ Denvir, 2000, pp. 29-79.

^ Higonnet, p. 5

^ Turner, 2000, p. 319.

^ “Berthe Morisot (1841-1895)”. Paul van Rensburg Gallery of Art. 


Denvir, B. (2000). The Chronicle of Impressionism: An Intimate Diary of the Lives and World of the Great Artists. London: Thames & Hudson. OCLC 43339405

Higonnet, Anne (1995). Berthe Morisot. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-20156-6

Turner, J. (2000). From Monet to Czanne: late 19th-century French artists. Grove Art. New York: St Martin’s Press. ISBN 0-312-22971-2

Manet, Julie, Rosalind de Boland Roberts, and Jane Roberts. Growing Up with the Impressionists: The Diary of Julie Manet. London: Sotheby’s Publications, 1987

External links

Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Berthe Morisot

Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Berthe Morisot

Berthe Morisot at the WebMuseum

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Frdric Bazille  Eugne Boudin  Gustave Caillebotte  Mary Cassatt  Paul Czanne  Edgar Degas  Armand Guillaumin  douard Manet  Claude Monet  Berthe Morisot  Camille Pissarro  Pierre-Auguste Renoir  Alfred Sisley


Gustave Caillebotte  Henry O. Havemeyer  Ernest Hosched


Paul Durand-Ruel  Georges Petit  Ambroise Vollard

Artists in USA

Frederick Carl Frieseke  Childe Hassam  Willard Metcalf  Lilla Cabot Perry  Theodore Robinson  John Henry Twachtman  J. Alden Weir

Other artists

Lovis Corinth  Max Liebermann  Max Slevogt  Konstantin Korovin  Valentin Serov  Francisco Oller y Cestero  Laura Muntz Lyall  Wadysaw Podkowiski  Nazmi Ziya Gran  Chafik Charobim

Other media

Music  Literature  French Impressionist Cinema

See also Post-Impressionism

Categories: 1841 births | 1895 deaths | People from Bourges | French painters | Impressionist painters | French women artists

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