Art, Impressionism, Painters, Who was/is

La grande dame de l’Impressionnisme

Today’s post is very special for me, because it is about my favourite woman artist: Berthe Morisot. If you follow the blog for a while, you already know it, as you know that she is the reason why I created the blog.

Berthe Morisot was born in 1841 in Bourges, a city in central France, into an affluent bourgeois family. She had two older sisters (Yves and Edma) and a younger brother (Tiburce). When she was a little girl, her family moved to Paris.

Berthe Morisot (1875) – photography by Charles Reutlinger

It was very common by that time to bourgeois girls to receive art education, so she and her sister Edma were taught with a private master. Both seemed to have a great interest in art.

The two sisters were pupils of Camille Corot and in 1864 Berthe Morisot made her debut at the Salon with two landscapes. She sent her works to the Salon until 1874 when took place the first independent exhibition with the impressionist group.

Morisot is best known for her friendship with Manet, and he made her famous through the many portraits he painted of her. According to many art historians, they already knew and admirer each other’s work before they met.

berthe morisot au bouquet de violettes
Berthe Morisot with a bouquet of violets by Édouard Manet (1872) – Musée d’Orsay

There was an artistic exchange between them, but she never was his pupil. Through this friendship, Morisot could meet the new ideas of the modern art and other painters as Monet and Renoir.

In 1874 she married Eugène Manet, Édouard’s brother, and her house became a place where the intellectual society of Paris met.

Eugène Manet, Berthe Morisot and Julie

Morisot was one of the main artists of the Impressionism. She was one of the original members and founder of this artistic movement; she helped finance some of the independent exhibitions; and participated in all independent exhibitions, failing only the 1878 year in which her daughter Julie was born. Nevertheless, her name was excluded of many, many Art History books.

Morisot preferred to paint intimate scenes of everyday life. Her work is full of spontaneity and naturalness. The artist depicts a fleeting moment of life, but giving to the painting the intimacy and serenity of that moment depicted. That casual immediacy, typical of her painting, together with the feathery brushstrokes, perfectly represent the impressionist yearning to capture transient moments of life.

le berceau
Le Berceau (1872 – Musée d’Orsay)

She painted her family many times, especially her sister Edma and her husban with Julie.

Eugène Manet et sa fille dans le jardin de Bougival 1883
Eugène Manet et sa fille dans le jardin de Bougival (1883 – Private Collection)