My recent reading (“Berthe Morisot” by Dominique Bona) as well as the new exhibition at the Musée d’Orsay (in english : Click here) dedicated to the artist, led me to write this article This exhibition is a unique opportunity to discover or rediscover the work of this amazing artist, one of the greatest French impressionist painter. I hope my article will make you feel like visiting this exhibition and discovering more about the life and work of this amazing artist ! To book you ticket : CLICK HERE
Through my recent reading ‘Berthe Morisot“ (Dominique Bona, French author), I discovered a woman whose life is as fascinating as her painting : she defought the conventions to live her life and art on her way, with an unfailing determination, at a time when women did not have careers outside of their home and marriage.Her art is fascinating : she is a key figure in the founding of Impressionism. She broke the rules of realism, in the way she painted
Certainly one of the three greatest female impressionist painters (with Marie Bracquemond and Mary Cassat). She was respected and admired by her counterparts and friends Monet, Manet, Pissaro, Renoir, Degas… But unfortunately her work has been undervalued for too long… She was a women, and that might explain it all.
Here is a list of some of the most famous impressionist painters : Frédéric Bazille, Gustave Caillebotte, Mary Cassat, Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas, Edouard Manet, Claude Monet, Berthe Morisot, Camille Pissarro, Pieerre Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley, Marie Bracquemond… Just to name a few.
Exhibition Berthe Morisot at the Musée d’Orsay :
from the 18th of June to the 22d of Septembre 2019
The Musée d’Orsay is paying tribute to the talent of one of this great French artist. The first time the Musée d’Orsay dedicates an exhibition to Berthe Morisot’s work. And it’s the first retrospective exhibition dedicated to this artist since the 1941 exhibition at the Orangerie.
Who is Berthe Morisot ?
‘I do not think any man would ever treat a woman as his equal, and it is all I ask because I know my worth.’ Berthe Morisot – 1890 (“Je ne crois pas qu’il y ait jamais eu un homme traitant une femme d’égale à égal, et c’est tout ce que j’aurais demandé. Car je sais que je les vaux.” Berthe Morisot, 1890)
She is one of the major figure of the Impressionism. She was born in 1841. She died at age 54 in 1895.
She was a member of the Parisian avant-garde impressionist movement. Her friends were Manet, Monet, Degas, Renoir, Fantin Latour, or Pissaro. She exhibited with them regularly. She frequented French writers too : Stéphane Mallarmé, Zola, Baudelaire, Paul Valery… Her work remained popular throughout her life. But her true value was never fully recognized by the public and the institutions. Her marriage license and her death certificat listed her as “without profession” …
Independent and determined :
I will achieve it only [being an artist] by perseverance, and by openly asserting my determination to emancipate myself.” – Berthe Morisot – 1871 («Je n’obtiendrai (mon indépendance) qu’à force de persévérance et en manifestant très ouvertement l’intention de m’émanciper»)
As a woman and as a painter : She was one of the most influential female Impressionist painters. One of the rare woman to make the painting her profession at a time when women couldn’t expect to have careers outside of marriage.She defought social norms, always refused an academic art. She was determined to be an artist as well as a wife and mother. She fought against the preconceptions of women’s roles at a time when women were not allowed to join the official art institutions.
As a model : Posing for Manet, was already an unconventional choice : Manet was a controversial artist for his paintings “Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe” (exhibited in the Salon in 1863) and “Olympia” (exhibited in 1865)
Berthe Morisot and Edouard Manet :
A Model subject and a muse for Manet (1832 – 1883) :
Berthe Morisot posed for Manet. Between 1868 and 1874, Edouard Manet painted her twelve times, more than any other woman. It’s Henri Fantin Latour who introduced her in 1868 to Edouard Manet. Berthe Morisot and Edouard Manet became close friends. He was a great admirer of her work and supported her although, and they both influenced each other art
A contemporary wrote : “When [Manet] paints Victorine, he paints her as a beautiful object; when he paints Berthe, he paints her with love and tenderness.”
The first time she posed for Manet was for “the Balcony”. But the most famous painting of Berthe Morisot by Edouard Manet is probably “Berthe Morisot with a bouquet of violets” where she is wearing a black dress
And “Le Repos”, could look like a declaration of love for his model. At least an emblematic portrait of Berthe Morisot by Manet
Were Edouard Manet and Berthe Morisot in love ?
Though, through the letters she wrote, we know that she cared deeply for Manet, nobody really knows if they both were in love.
However, Manet was a married man when they met, and Edouard Manet was also known as having numerous affairs with many women outside of his marriage.
In 1874, at age 33, she married Manet’s younger brother Eugène who was also a painter. Her husband supported Berthe Morisot’ s carrier and provided her with social and financial stability. In 1878, they had a child, Julie.
She and her daughter were painted by Auguste Renoir too :
Her painting :
“Real painters understand with the brush” – Berthe Morisot
She started as a copyist at Le Louvre and studied painting extensively during this period. She soon refused the academic training she was receiving. Her work was first exhibited in 1864 at the Salon de Paris, a prestigious art show. She was then 23.
In 1872, she sold 22 paintings to a private dealer. It was the start of the career as an established artist.
She painted outdoor scenes, still-life scenes, everyday life activities and portraits. Mostly in Paris and around, but occasionaly in England and Italy too. Always with a unconventional approach to her art, with delicacy
She was renowned for her creativity, and her experiments with the concept of finished an unfinished in her paintings, her way to interpret traditional subjects in a modern way, her capacity to reveal with delicacy the complexity of life and human beings, and her ability to capture the movement, the light, the feelings.
‘Berthe Morisot’s uniqueness was to “live” her painting, and to paint her life’ – Paul Valery (French writer and one of her friends)
Among her most famous works : the Cradle (1872) where she shows her sister Edma contemplating her sleeping daughter and “Interior” (1872)
Her paintings are spread in numerous museums and private collections all over the world. In Paris, mainly at the Musée d’Orsay and the Musée Marmottan Monet
Her childhood and education :
Born in 1841 in a wealthy bourgeois family in Bourges (center of France). She had 2 older sisters Yves (although Yves is a French male first name) and Edma, and also a younger brother, Tiburce. Her family moved to Paris in 1852. She lived in Paris for the rest of her life.
Berthe and her sisters received an artistic education (music and painting lessons) and were supported by their family. Both Berthe and her sister Edma were talented artists. Edma gave up after getting married and Berthe continued working as a painter.
AJIP private walking tours
Coming to Paris soon ? Book your private tour with AJIP.
A way to get to get closer to an authentic Paris and to learn more than the touristic side of the city: Don’t hesitate to contact me : here
The Latin Quarter, Montmartre village, Saint Germain des Prés, The atmospheric 19th century tour, Montparnasse… Each walk can be personalized according to your wishes and interests. Each walk, includes a break with a drink (included in the fees). AJIP private tours – Here
MORE PHOTOS OF BERTHE MORISOT’s PAINTINGS at the BOTTOM OF THIS PAGE
Other informations about Berthe Morisot exhibition at the Musée d’Orsay
- The book I have read : “Berthe Morisot” by Dominique Bona – Dominique Bona is a member of Académie Française since 2013. But unfortunately as far as I know : no English edition.
- ‘Berthe Morisot’, by Jean-Dominique Rey (Flammarion) – English version – on Amazon.com
- My article about the Musée d’Orsay : Click here
Some of the paintings of the permanent collection (among the numerous Berthe Morisot’s paintings spread all over the world in private collections and museums). In Paris, mainly at the Musée d’Orsay and the Musée Marmottan Monet
- at the Musée d’Orsay : In the permanent collection
- Portrait de Madame Pontillon, 1871,
- Le Berceau (The Cradle) , 1872,
- Jeune femme au bal encore intitulé Jeune femme en toilette de bal, 1876,
- Jeune femme en toilette de bal (Young Woman in Evening Dress), 1879
(of course the exhibition from the 19 June 2019 to the 22 Septembre 2019 gathers many more Berthe Morisot ‘s works of art)
- at the Musée Marmottan-Monet, – 2, rue Louis-Boilly, Paris 16 –Metro stop : La Muette or Ranelagh (line 9)
- “Au bal” ou Jeune fille au bal, 1875,
- Eugène Manet on the Isle of Wight 1875,
- at the National museum of Stockolm
- Dans le jardin (Dames cueillant des fleurs), 1879
- at the National Gallery of London
- Le Lac du Bois de Boulogne (Jour d’été), 1879,
- at the Art Institute of Chicago :
- Femme et enfant au balcon, 1871–72,
- Femme à sa toilette , 1875–1880
- Jeune fille de dos à sa toilette, encore intitulé Femme à sa toilette 1879, oil on canvas, 6
- Autoportrait, 1885, pastel on paper, 47.5 × 37.5 cm,
- La Forêt de Compiègne, 1885, oil on canvas,
- Le Bain (Jeune file se coiffant), 1885–1886,
My tips :
- Book you ticket in advance : Though you won’t be able to avoid waiting in line (because of the safety check) I highly recommend you to book you ticket in advance. Then go directly to the Entrance C dedicated to those who have already got a ticket.
- Best days and times :
- Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at the opening time (9.30am. Best being there around 9/9.15am)
- Thursday at the opening night. I suggest that you’d be there around 7pm or later. (Thursday closing time at 9.45pm)
- Avoid if possible the weekends.And the Monday is the closing day.
- Transportation : I favor Solferino metro stop rather than Musée d’Orsay metro stop. From Solferino metro stop, about 5 minutes walk but the taking the metro (rather than the RER) is more pleasant so as the exit. And the walk to the Museum is nice too.
Practical details :
- Address : Musée d’Orsay , 1 rue de la Légion d’Honneur – Paris 7 . Metro and RER : Solferino metro stop or RER C Musée d’Orsay metro stop –
- Opening hours :
- Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 9.30am to 6 pm
- Thursday : from 9.30am to 9.45pm
- Closed on Mondays, the 1st January, 1st of May and 25th of December
- Full price : 15 euros
MORE PHOTOS OF BERTHE MORISOT’s PAINTINGS