Berthe Morisot

Berthe Morisot (January 14, 1841 - March 2, 1895) was an impressionist painter who demonstrated the possibilities for women artists in avant-garde art movements at the end of the 19th century.

Morisot was born in Bourges, Cher, France into a successful bourgeois family who encouraged her and her sister in their exploration of art and, once Berthe settle on pursuing art seriously, did not impede her career.

By the time she was 20, she had met and befriended the important landscape painter of the Barbizon School Camille Corot, who introduced her to other artists and teachers. She took up plein air techniques at about this time - painting small paintings entirely outdoors either as finished works or as studies for slightly larger works completed in the studio.

Morisot's first acceptance for the Salon came in 1864 with 2 landscape paintings, and continued to show regularly in the Salon until 1874, the year of the first Impressionist exhibition.

She was acquainted with Edouard Manet from 1868, and in 1874 she married Eugene Manet, Edouard's younger brother. She managed to convince Manet to attempt some plein air painting and drew him into the circle of acquaintaince of the painters who became known as the Impressionists. However, he never considered himself an Impressionist or agreed to show with the group. Morisot, on the other hand, was, along with Camille Pissarro, one of the only 2 artists who showed in all of the original Impressionist shows.

- L'Enfant au Tablier Rouge -

Like Mary Cassatt, in her own lifetime Berthe Morisot was also recently relegated to the category of "feminine" artists because of their usual subject matter - women, children, and domestic scenes. However, as a doctrinaire Impressionist, Morisot strove to paint what she saw in her immediate, everyday life. As an woman securely in the haute bourgeoisie she saw domestic interiors, holiday spots, other women, and children. Her subject matter is, without exception, the personal equivalent of that of her Impressionist colleagues. Edgar Degas, the dandy male bourgeois, painted rehearsals of the Ballet, horse races, and nude women in apartments (rather than studios). Claude Monet painted his garden, his children, and his neighbor's haystacks. The female Impressionists painted their social milieu in a way consistent with the Impressionist approach to subject matter.

Berthe Morisot died in Paris and was interred in the Cimetière de Passy.

Today, her paintings can sell for more than US$4 million.


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