Archive: June2019

Berthe Morisot – la Grand Dame of Impressionist Art

Bethe Morisot
1841-1895
photo courtesy: theartstory.com

Bertha was born in France to a wealthy family of great artistic abilities. Her father was a skilled architect and her mother hailed from one of the greatest Rocco painters of the time; her great-uncle, Jean-Honoré Fragonard. Education was greatly valued in her family, though, while her brother could go to school, Berthe and her sister were educated at home by a tutor. As part of their studies, the girls had lessons in art and went weekly to the Louvre Museum to paint copies of the master works there. Bertha would continue this through adulthood eventually becoming a certified “copiest” with the museum. 

While there, Berthe met many upcoming artists including: Corot, Monet, Degas, (who would become a close, life-long friend,) and Eduard Manet, whose brother, Eugene, would later become her husband. Her later work was greatly influenced by these new friends, though she would come to create a style all her own by incorporating oil paint, watercolors, and pastels in combination with the long brush strokes and unfinished edges of the Impressionists. Ms. Morisot sketched extensively before painting, and, unlike her peers, would use transfer paper to “transcribe” the image to her canvas before painting. The technique allowed her to paint whole faces and bodies in one brushstroke. 

Berthe Morisot’s, The Cradle
photo courtesy: britanica.com

Though she had shown her early work to great acclaim in the highly esteemed Paris Salon, by 1874 she was showing exclusively with the Impressionists and became not only known as one of three “grand dames” of the movement, but in certain art circles, “the only Impressionist with any talent.” 

Berthe Morisot’s, Summer’s Day
photo courtsey: nationalgallery.org.uk

Her subjects included scenes of daily life and the people who lived them. She also favored landscapes, gardens and flowers as she liked to paint “en plein air”  (outside). 

Some of her paintings include; The Cradle, The Reader, and A Summer’s Day 

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