Berthe Morisot

Annie Lee | Mar 7, 2023

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Berthe Marie Pauline Morisot born January 14, 1841 in Bourges and died March 2, 1895 in Paris, is a French painter, co-founder and dean of the avant-garde movement that was Impressionism.

Within the Impressionist group, she aroused the admiration and respect of her peers.

His brother-in-law Édouard Manet, who was the most worldly, Edgar Degas, the most shady, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, the most sociable, and Claude Monet, the most independent of the group, gathered at his table. Stéphane Mallarmé introduced him to his writer friends.

The stages of Berthe Morisot's career are not very marked, as she destroyed all her early works. It is hardly possible to discern any influence from Édouard Manet or Pierre-Auguste Renoir towards the end of her life.

Berthe Morisot is a "rebel". Turning her back on academic teaching at a very young age, she founded with Claude Monet, Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley, Camille Pissarro, Edgar Degas the avant-garde group the "Artistes Anonymes Associés", which was to become the "Société anonyme des artistes peintres, sculpteurs et graveurs" grouping together impressionists. Her will to break with tradition, the transcendence of her models, and her talent make her "the great lady of painting" according to Anne Higonnet.


Berthe Morisot was born on January 14, 1841 at three o'clock in the evening in Bourges where her father, Edme Tiburce Morisot, was prefect of the Cher department. Her mother Marie-Joséphine-Cornélie Thomas was a great-niece of the painter Jean Honoré Fragonard.

Berthe had two sisters. One, Yves (1838-1893), later became Madame Théodore Gobillard, painted by Edgar Degas as Madame Théodore Gobillard, Metropolitan Museum of Art (Yves is indeed a female name here).

Her second sister, Edma (1839-1921), practiced painting with Berthe who painted her portrait in 1865 (private collection). The two sisters exhibited together for the first time at the Salon in 1864, but Edma abandoned her brushes immediately after her marriage in March 1869 to Lieutenant Adolphe Pontillon, for this was the year of two portraits by Berthe of her married sister: in one she is seated in a comfortable armchair in front of a French window overlooking a balcony, in the other she is seated with an umbrella on a parapet in the port of Lorient where her husband was posted (reproduced in the catalog of the exhibition French Paintings (Mellon collections) Washington , National Gallery of Art, 1966, nos. 93 and 95).

The Morisot sisters also had a brother, named Tiburce like their father, who we only know was born on December 11, 1845 in Limoges and was a general inspector for the Sleeping Car Company at the time of his marriage in October 1887.


At the beginning of the 1850s, Edme Tiburce Morisot, dismissed from his position by the new imperial regime, moved with his family to Passy near Paris and joined, in the capital, first the Crédit Foncier, then in 1855, the Court of Auditors. Berthe and her sisters received a careful education in very reputable Parisian schools: the Cours Lévi and later the one opened in 1853 on rue de Verneuil by Miss Adeline Desir. Their mother also gave them piano lessons.

The Morisot sisters' mother had offered them painting lessons as a surprise to her husband, who himself had studied architecture and was an art lover. According to the recollections of Tiburce, the nine year old brother, Geoffroy-Alphonse Chocarne's teaching, in the neo-classical style, did not please the girls at all. And since the École des Beaux-Arts was not open to women, Madame Morisot found another teacher, Joseph Guichard, whose teaching Edma and Berthe greatly appreciated. It is the father who reports Joseph Guichard's impassioned comments to his wife on the talent of his daughters: "With natures like that of your daughters, it is not just a little talent for pleasure that my teaching will give them; they will become painters. Do you realize what this means? In your middle-class environment, it will be a revolution, I would almost say a catastrophe. Are you sure you won't curse me one day?

However, after meeting the copyists at the Louvre, notably Fantin-Latour who was enthusiastic about Boisbaudran and his original methods, Edma and Berthe asked Guichard for plein air painting lessons. Guichard entrusted them to the landscape painter Achille Oudinot who in turn entrusted them to his friend Corot.

The Morisot family rented a house in Ville-d'Avray during the summer so that the girls could paint with Corot, who soon became a familiar face in their Parisian home on rue Franklin. As he was opposed to any form of traditional teaching, it is not known how often Corot gave lessons to the girls, and where. Nevertheless, we note that Berthe took after him her clear palette and her taste for apparent brushstrokes, or for small landscape studies.

First exhibitions

In 1863, there was a phenomenon that was to mark the history of art: the Salon de peinture et de sculpture accepted the paintings of Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot. But it refused so many artists among the five thousand who presented works, and this created such a scandal that the emperor opened another Salon: the Salon des refusés.

This turmoil did not prevent the Morisot sisters from preparing their first submission to the 1864 Salon. The Morisots rented a farm in a district of Pontoise called "Le Chou", on the banks of the Oise, near Auvers-sur-Oise. Edma and Berthe were then introduced to Charles-François Daubigny, Honoré Daumier and Émile Zola. For her first submission, Berthe Morisot was admitted to the Salon with Souvenir des bords de l'Oise and Un vieux chemin à Auvers, Edma Morisot with a river scene in the manner of Corot. Two art critics noticed the sisters' paintings and noted Corot's influence, but they received little attention.

The following year, Berthe Morisot's submission to the Salon of 1865 was noticed by Paul Mantz, art critic for the Gazette des beaux-arts, who saw in it: "a great deal of frankness and feeling in the color and light", an assessment that contrasts with the one he would make in 1881 about the painting when it showed more audacity in its style. It is true that until 1867, Berthe Morisot still presented works that did not disturb, such as La Brémondière, a river scene that has now disappeared. One of her first masterpieces remains Chaumière en Normandie (private collection), where her talent shines through in the way she strews the canvas with tree trunks to create views of a thatched cottage in the background.

At the Louvre, the Morisot sisters met Édouard Manet with the copyists. The Morisot parents gave parties where they met the Manets. Madame Manet-mother also gave evenings where she received the Morisots, and all these people still met at the evenings of Monsieur de Gas (father of Edgar Degas) where Charles Baudelaire, Emmanuel Chabrier, Charles Cros, James Tissot, Pierre Puvis de Chavannes were present. This avant-garde bourgeoisie was then very social. It was learned from Madame Loubens (best known for Degas' portrait of her) that Degas had been in love with Edma Morisot, and that Manet had expressed admiration for her work. The Morisots' salon was frequented by a growing number of bachelors, among them Jules Ferry, to whom Tiburce Morisot denounced the dangers of Baron Haussmann and his grandiose urban projects. The two sisters had entrusted paintings to the dealer Alfred Cadart, from whom they expected much and who proved to be disappointing, but Madame Morisot was less worried about her daughters' careers than about their choice of husbands: Yves had just married Théodore Gobillard in 1866, a civil servant who had been maimed by an arm during the Mexican campaign. Two years later Edma married Adolphe Pontillon, a naval officer and friend of Manet, with whom she left for Brittany.

After spending a last summer with her two sisters in Brittany, at Edma's house, Berthe Morisot began an independent career. She painted a view of the river from Pont-Aven to Rozbras, which was exhibited the following year at the Salon of 1868, along with the paintings of Edma, who was still exhibiting. Most critics - except Émile Zola, Manet's ardent defender - neglected the works of Berthe and Edma Morisot that year. At that time, contempt for women painters was reaching new heights, and Manet wrote to Fantin-Latour: "I agree with you, the Misses Morisot are charming, it is unfortunate that they are not men. However, they could, as women, serve the cause of painting by marrying each one an academician and by putting discord in the camp of these spoilsports."

But Berthe Morisot continued her career; in 1869, she brought back from a visit to her sister a View of the Little Port of Lorient, National Gallery of Art.

The cumbersome friend Manet

From Lorient in 1869, Berthe Morisot brought back a painting of Edma Morisot, entitled Young Woman at her Window (Madame Pontillon), National Gallery of Art. Berthe Morisot adopted a style reminiscent of a genre scene by Alfred Stevens, but with a much greater degree of freedom. Manet had just begun a similar, larger canvas, and he had great difficulty in treating the face of his model Eva Gonzalès, who had also set out to become his pupil: Manet went over it thirty times. Frustrated, he kept on working on the little portrait of Edma, wishing that Berthe would rework it. But he praised it highly. The painting was admitted to the 1870 Salon along with another, larger painting by Berthe Morisot, representing Madame Morisot-mother and Edma, entitled Madame Morisot and her daughter, Madame Pontillon, also entitled The Reading, National Gallery of Art. Manet had interfered excessively with this painting, which displeased Madame Morisot-mother, who wrote on March 20, 1870: "For my own part, I found the improvements Manet had made to my head to be atrocious. Seeing him in this state, Berthe told me that she would rather see him at the bottom of the river than to learn that he had been received." Berthe Morisot did not appreciate the painter's interventions on this painting and she discreetly retouched it before sending it to the salon. It seems that the critics were aware of Manet's excessive interventions, which is why they kept a discreet silence on this work, which irritated Manet. Berthe Morisot did not hold this episode against him and their friendship remained intact. Manet had a tendency to "appropriate" Berthe Morisot, whom he had already had pose for his painting The Balcony and whom he often chose as a model, especially just after his engagement to Eugène Manet and just after their marriage (on December 22, 1874 at 9:00 a.m. at the Mairie du 16e).

On July 19, 1870, war broke out between France and Prussia. The Manet brothers, Degas, Félix Bracquemond and other artists were enlisted in the National Guard. Berthe Morisot agreed to go to Saint-Germain-en-Laye with her mother, but after joining Edma in Cherbourg where she painted, she refused to leave France and returned to Paris a few months later as the fighting intensified around Paris and her health was strained. Berthe Morisot stopped painting for a time. From Cherbourg, she had brought back Le Port de Cherbourg, 1871, private collection, Woman and Child Sitting in a Meadow, 1871.

Influence and exchanges Morisot-Manet

There was then a cross-fertilization of mutual influences, of sometimes imperceptible borrowings, from Manet to Morisot and vice versa. Between 1871 and 1872, Morisot painted a picture of her sister, Yves Gobillard, with her daughter, Bichette, under the title Woman and Child on the Balcony (private collection). Yves is in profile and the child, with his back to Paris, repeats an idea that the artist had already treated in one of the watercolors of Cherbourg: Woman and Child Sitting in a Meadow 1871, where the child also has his back to Paris. The following year Manet repeated the silhouette of the child seen from behind, looking out through a gate in his Chemin de fer, National Gallery of Art, but the green railing of Berthe Morisot is reminiscent of the one in Manet's Balcon.

Berthe Morisot liked her painting so much that she made a watercolor copy (Art Institute of Chicago). The figure from behind often appears in her paintings. With this process, she gave her family portraits a less affected appearance, which inaugurated a new genre already experimented with the painting Interior, 1871. The woman in profile in the foreground sees the child pulling aside the window curtain, but the daylight is so strong that all the forms are dissolved, which will be refused at the 1872 Salon.

In the same year, Berthe Morisot painted Vue de Paris des hauteurs du Trocadéro (Santa Barbara Museum of Art, California). But she was not happy with her work as she wrote to Edma that "(...) as an arrangement it looks like Manet. I realize this and I am annoyed," referring to the picture Manet painted during the World's Fair of 1867: View of the World's Fair of 1867, Nasjonalgalleriet, Oslo

Berthe Morisot's studio in Passy had been damaged by the war. She stopped painting for a while and preferred to pose for Manet who, depressed by the war and the damage of syphilis, could not work anymore. Berthe Morisot with a black hat dates from this period, 1872, private collection.

In early 1872, through Alfred Stevens, the dealer Paul Durand-Ruel came to Manet's studio and bought twenty-two paintings from him. In early July, Morisot asked Manet to show one of his seaside landscapes to Durand-Ruel, who bought L'Entrée du port de Cherbourg, Musée Léon-Alègre, Bagnols-sur-Cèze, and three watercolors by Berthe Morisot, including La Jeune Fille sur un banc (Edma Pontillon), 1872, National Gallery of Art, and then in 1873, Vue de Paris des hauteurs du Trocadéro, which he sold at a respectable price to Ernest Hoschedé, a merchant and collector.

Little by little, Berthe Morisot would move away from Manet's dark colors and adopt lighter and lighter colors.

Mastery of the art

Berthe Morisot's mastery began to captivate her peers who recognized her as an artist in her own right, especially Edgar Degas. She began to move away from the somewhat dark colors to lighter and lighter tones, which she took from Corot. Sometimes her colors were bright as in the painting Interior that the jury of the 1872 Salon refused, which outraged Puvis de Chavannes. Manet, who always followed Morisot's work very closely, was gradually influenced by the light colors of Little Girl with Hyacinths, pastel, 1872, Young Girl Sitting on a Bench (Edma Pontillon), 1872, and Cradle, 1872, Musée d'Orsay sent to the 1872 Salon.

The Cradle marks a milestone in Berthe Morisot's evolution: "The way Berthe paints this child with soggy whites, rubbed grays, and small pink dots scattered along the edge of the fabric implies an extraordinarily loose brushwork that contrasts with the sharply drawn features of the mother."

It is from this period that Berthe Morisot's full blossoming dates and she often went to her sister's property in Maurecourt on the banks of the Oise in the Yvelines to work. Her style evolved considerably: "her extraordinary artistic sensitivity is expressed with an extreme delicacy of touch, and a rapid brushwork, an art that can be compared to that of the fugue, and which seems to bring to life from the light even the characters in the landscape. La Chasse aux papillons, 1874, oil on canvas, 46 × 56 cm Musée d'Orsay, Cache-cache, 1873, oil on canvas 45.1 × 54.9 cm, private collection, show the perfect mastery of plastic expression where the influences of Corot and Manet are both assimilated and transcended." Works from this period include Madame Boursier and Daughter 1873, oil on canvas, 74 × 52 cm, Brooklyn Museum; On the Lawn, 1874, pastel, 73 × 92 cm, Musée du Petit Palais, Paris; On the Beach, 1873, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, Virginia.

In the summer of 1874, Berthe Morisot vacationed in Fécamp with Edma, her children, and family friends who posed for her. On vacation not far from there, Eugène Manet, forty-one years old, sometimes came to paint beside Berthe Morisot and especially courted her. On December 22, she married him at the Town Hall and then at the church of Notre-Dame-de-Grâce in Passy. That year, Édouard painted two magnificent portraits of Berthe, Portrait de Berthe Morisot à l'éventail (Palais des beaux-arts de Lille), where Berthe Morisot appears in mourning after the death of her father in January. Her engagement ring is still visible on her left hand and the fan is folded. The other portrait is entitled Berthe Morisot à l'éventail (Berthe Morisot with a Fan), Musée d'Orsay, in which the artist is shown with her face hidden behind her fan.

Impressionist commitment

The 1873 Salon had been stormy. The artists who had been refused their work complained about the conservative choices of the jury. Berthe Morisot had only one painting accepted, Blanche, a very conventional work that probably represented Blanche Pontillon as a baby. But already, a group of artists composed of Monet, Pissarro, Sisley, Degas, had signed a charter on December 27, 1873, planning to organize a cooperative: The Society of French Artists, which was to take the name of Société Anonyme des Artistes Peintres, Sculpteurs et Graveurs, to which Berthe Morisot joined after the death of her father. She abandoned the official Salon for the Impressionist exhibitions of which she was to be one of the leading figures. This was despite the advice of Puvis de Chavannes, and the refusal of Manet, who had just received a medal at the 1873 Salon and who did not want to join the group, "...thus proving that to be admitted, one must make enormous concessions to official taste.

The First Exhibition of Impressionist Painters took place in the Salons Nadar, 35 boulevard des Capucines, where Nadar's former studios were located. Twenty-nine artists participated, Berthe Morisot being the only woman. A week before the opening of the exhibition, Puvis de Chavannes sent her a letter to warn her against the fiasco of this enterprise. But nothing stopped the young artist. She was asserting her independence from Manet, who had turned away from the exhibition. Among the oils she sent to Nadar were: The Cradle (Musée d'Orsay), The Port of Cherbourg, Reading, Hide and Seek, and among the pastels: Portrait of Miss Madeleine Thomas, The Village of Maurecourt, On the Cliff, pastel, Department of Graphic Arts, Musée du Louvre. According to the exhibition catalog, Berthe Morisot exhibited fourteen oils, three pastels and three watercolors.

Three thousand five hundred visitors came to the exhibition, and the critics came in great numbers. The most noticed was the one published on April 25 in Le Charivari by Louis Leroy, who, using the title of one of Monet's paintings Impression, soleil levant, gave his name to the Impressionist movement: "... But the impression, in front of the boulevard des Capucines Here is the impression or I do not know there I also said to me, since I am impressed, it is that there is impression there. "

Eugène was already supporting Berthe in the summer of 1874, at a time when the press was ridiculing the young woman, accusing her of making a spectacle of herself. But Berthe Morisot continued to pursue her chosen path with ardor. She asserted herself, abandoning a painting with an unfinished background: Portrait of Madame Hubbard Ordrupgaard museum in Copenhagen, and keeping it to sell, whereas in the past she would have destroyed an unfinished work. She participated in an auction at Drouot where twelve of her works were sold.

It was a scandal. Renoir recounted that a detractor had called Berthe Morisot a prostitute and that Pissarro had thrown his fist in his face, which had sparked a fight. The police were called in to help.

Manet encouraged journalists to support the sale, while the newspaper Le Figaro denounced the revolutionary and dangerous tendencies of the first Impressionist exhibition in a violent diatribe by Albert Wolff. The journalist called the artists insane: "There is also a woman in the group as in all the famous bands; her name is Berthe Morisot and she is curious to observe. In her, feminine grace is maintained in the midst of the outbursts of a delirious mind." Eugene Manet intended to challenge him to a duel, but Berthe Morisot and her comrades diverted him from this project.

Works from this period are concerned with depicting, in smaller formats, the working-class world that Zola celebrated, and that Monet, Pissarro and Degas also chose as their subject from 1875 onwards. Morisot herself participated in this trend with one of her most successful paintings: Percher de blanchisseuses, 1875, National Gallery of Art, Washington. That year, Eugene was forced to model for Berthe (he hated to pose) in the painting Eugene Manet on the Isle of Wight, Musée Marmottan-Monet.

Morisot, now more confident, sought to sell her paintings. Édouard and Eugène Manet encouraged her to send them to the Dudley Gallery in London, which did not exhibit any of them. On the other hand, Hoschedé bought from Durand-Ruel Femme à sa toilette, an interior scene flooded with light and treated in broad strokes, private collection. Some art critics, especially Arthur Baignières, commented on the evolution of her style, regretting that she pushed the impressionist research so far: "She pushes the impressionist system to the extreme and we regret it all the more because she possesses rare qualities as a colorist. Many of her paintings represent views of the Isle of Wight and one cannot recognize them Mademoiselle Morisot is such a convinced impressionist that she can paint to the movement of every inanimate thing."

Impressionist figurehead

The exhibitions of those whom Wolff describes as "insane" continued until 1886, with great difficulty, but much enthusiasm. There were eight of them, the third financed by Gustave Caillebotte. Berthe Morisot participated in all but the fourth (1879), as she had much to do with her daughter Julie, born on November 14, 1878. Women painters were brilliantly represented that year by Marie Bracquemond and Mary Cassatt.

In 1876, at the second exhibition of the group, at the Durand-Ruel gallery, rue Le Peletier, Berthe Morisot exhibited Jeune fille au bal, an oil on canvas, 86 × 55 cm, Musée d'Orsay. As well as The Psyche, oil on canvas, 65 × 54 cm, Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, Madrid (former Thyssen-Bornemisza collection in Lugano).

She was on her way to becoming one of the leading figures of the Impressionist group, along with the American Mary Cassatt, who came to live in Paris in 1874. But conventional critics took offense at her "feminine" painting, except for Mallarmé who gave her enthusiastic support.

However, Morisot's paintings are of less interest to art critics than those of Renoir, Caillebotte, or Monet. They speak especially of "her exquisite white and silver harmonies" found in Dreamer, pastel on canvas, 50.2 × 61 cm, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas city, Missouri, or in: La Toilette (Jeune femme de dos à sa toilette), oil on canvas 60 × 80 cm, 1875, Art Institute of Chicago.

The works presented in 1877 earned her the relative compliments of Paul Mantz: "There is, in the whole revolutionary group, only one impressionist, it is Madame Berthe Morisot", and those of Theodore Duret who classified the young woman in "the primordial group of impressionists".

In 1880, at the 5th exhibition, Morisot presented: Summer Days, oil on canvas 46 × 75 cm, 1879, National Gallery, London, Winter, 1880, oil on canvas 73.5 × 58.5 cm7, Dallas Museum of Art. During this period, Morisot's paintings engaged in a dialogue with Manet. Morisot's Young Girl with Her Back to the Toilet responded to Manet's In Front of the Ice, Morisot's Summer Day (the Lake in the Bois de Boulogne) responded to Manet's In the Boat. The critics find the paintings of one and the other unfinished.

As early as 1881, Berthe Morisot and Mary Cassatt emerged as the leaders of the new Impressionist trend in the eyes of the critics: for the first time in the history of art, women were considered the undisputed masters of an avant-garde movement.

Morisot showed even more audacity than in previous years, which outraged two critics who had appreciated her until then: Paul Mantz and Charles Ephrussi: "Madame Morisot ended up exaggerating her manner to the point of blurring already imprecise forms. She only makes the beginnings of beginnings; the result is curious, but more and more metaphysical. It obviously takes colorist's talents to pull this delicacy out of nothingness." Charles Ephrussi is scandalized by the pastels, "One more step and distinguishing or understanding anything will become impossible."

From 1880 on, Berthe Morisot and her family spent all their summers in a country house in Bougival, and from 1881 on, they lived several winters in Nice. These two places inspired Berthe Morisot to produce a large number of paintings which she presented at the last revolutionary exhibitions.

From Nice, she brought back The Port of Nice oil on canvas in two versions and two formats private collection, and a third format 38 × 46 Dallas Museum of Art; Beach in Nice 1881-1882, watercolor on paper 42 × 55 cm, Nationalmuseum Stockholm.

Bougival was an even more important source of inspiration. His most ambitious painting The Garden (1882-1883) oil on canvas, 99.1 × 127 cm, Sara Lee Corporation is probably exhibited in London by Durand-Ruel. Morisot also painted Le Quai de Bougival 1883 Nasjonalgalleriet Oslo, Eugène Manet and his daughter in the garden.

Of the painting of Berthe Morisot, Gustave Geffroy says:

Last years

Around 1886-1887, Berthe Morisot began to explore new techniques: sculpture, drypoint, which were a challenge for the virtuoso colorist that she was. In 1886 she made a white plaster bust of her daughter Julie, which Monet and Renoir encouraged her to exhibit at the home of Georges Petit, where they themselves had exhibited. Petit was a businessman first and foremost: he asked the artists to leave him a portion of their work as compensation for his expenses. Morisot accepted his demands, but Petit did not manage to sell a single one of his seven works, among which was the bust of Julie, and Paule Gobillard in a ball gown, a portrait of his niece, Paule Gobillard (1869-1946), a painter who was also his pupil, all in white tones. Berthe Morisot left her The Rising.

In February 1887 Morisot was invited to exhibit in Brussels with a group of avant-garde artists: the Groupe des XX, where Georges Seurat and Pissarro were also exhibiting. Berthe Morisot's consignment included The Red Bodice, 1885, oil on canvas, 73.5 × 60 cm, Ordrupgaard museum, Copenhagen; Le Lever 1886, oil on canvas 63 × 54 cm, private collection; Le Port de Nice, 1881-1882, oil on canvas 41 × 55 cm, private collection; Dans la salle à manger (1875 or 1885-1886 according to biographies, oil on canvas 61.3 × 50 cm, National Gallery of Art); Intérieur à Jersey (1886, oil on canvas, 50 × 60 cm, Musée d'Ixelles).

Around 1886-87 Berthe Morisot began to treat nudes in pastel, charcoal, and watercolor, all executed in very soft tones: Young Woman with Bare Shoulders (Woman Wiping Herself, pastel on paper, 42 × 41 cm, private collection). Later, she devoted herself to depicting her daughter, Julie, in all aspects: as a flute player with Jeanne Gobillard, in Le Flageolet, 1891, oil on canvas, 56 × 87 cm, private collection, Julie with her greyhound, 1893. She planned to make a series of them. Berthe Morisot also painted many young girls in The Mandolin (1889, oil on canvas, 55 × 57 cm) and Under the Orange Tree (1889, oil on canvas, 54 × 65 cm).

The Manet couple was at that time in the south of France. Back in Paris, Berthe Morisot rented a house in Mézy, northwest of Paris. She found that Eugene's health, suffering from a pulmonary form of syphilis, was not good and she painted very little for a while. "She felt that she and her husband had aged prematurely and she felt nostalgic at the sight of her daughter and nieces learning to draw, paint and play music. Berthe felt the end of her life coming. In a letter to Edma, she expresses in her will the desire that Mallarmé be the tutor of Julie.

Berthe Morisot nevertheless had a barn converted into a studio, and she used the Mézy children as models, but Renoir urged her to complete a decorative painting in the spirit of Botticelli's Spring, which she had begun in Nice in 1888. Morisot made numerous preparatory studies for this painting "The Cherry Tree," 1891-1892, oil on canvas 136 × 89 cm, private collection. She now made a large number of preparatory studies for all her paintings: she made three versions of Bergère couchée, and, while continuing to work on the Cerisier, she resumed her series of Julie Manet: Julie rêveuse, 1894, oil on canvas, 80 × 60 cm and Julie au violon 1894, 65 × 54 cm, private collection.

Eugène Manet's health, aged 59, was declining more and more. He died on April 13, 1892. Stéphane Mallarmé became Julie Manet's guardian.

Berthe Morisot had declined the invitation of the Group of Twenty for the Brussels exhibition of early 1892, but Eugène had urged her to organize a large solo exhibition at the Boussod and Valladon gallery. This gallery, founded by Adolphe Goupil, was not favorable to the Impressionists. It resisted for a long time, even when it was taken over by Bousod, the husband of Goupil's granddaughter, and Valadon, his brother-in-law. It only began to open up to the Impressionists under the short-lived influence of Theo van Gogh.

The exhibition was very well received. Degas told him that his vaporous painting hid an increasingly sure drawing, which was the highest compliment. Gustave Geffroy of La Vie Artistique devoted very complimentary pages to her. The following year, Morisot visited Monet, in Giverny, to admire his cathedrals and to ward off her sadness: her sister, Yves Gobillard, had just died in 1893, and Chabrier, in 1894 Berthe Morisot devoted herself to the representation of her daughter Julie, her nieces, Paule and Jeanne Gobillard: Skating in the Bois de Boulogne (1894) Caillebotte having bequeathed his collection to the Musée du Luxembourg in order to introduce Impressionism, it was discovered that he did not own a single painting by Berthe Morisot. At Mallarmé's instigation, the French state acquired Jeune femme en toilette de bal for the Musée du Luxembourg so that one of the leading figures of the Impressionist movement could be represented.

Berthe Morisot, who lived at 40 rue de Villejust from 1883 to 1892(?), fell ill in mid-February 1895. She had, according to some biographies, a pulmonary congestion, or influenza, contracted while nursing her daughter from the same ailment, but contaminated by her husband, she had probably been suffering from the same form of pulmonary syphilis for several years, which the politically correct could not state. She died on March 2, 1895 at 10, rue Weber in Paris at 10 o'clock in the evening, and left most of her works to her artist friends: Degas, Monet, Renoir. In spite of her rich artistic production, the death certificate mentioned: "without profession". She is buried in the Manet's vault in the cemetery of Passy where it is simply engraved: "Berthe Morisot, widow of Eugène Manet".

The death of the artist did not, however, lead to the dispersion of the Impressionist group; on the contrary, it was an opportunity for exchanges between members, reminding them of their cohesion; his fellow fighters loved and protected his daughter, Julie, whom Mallarmé was the tutor and whom Renoir took to paint with him. Degas married Julie in 1900 to Henri Rouart's son, Ernest Rouart.

For the first anniversary of his death, from March 5 to 21 (or 23), 1896, Durand-Ruel, with the help of Degas, Rouart and his daughter Julie Manet, organized a retrospective of his works of about three hundred to four hundred paintings

Paul Valéry, who married her niece, Jeanne Gobillard, wrote an essay on Berthe Morisot in 1926 and dedicated it to Édouard Vuillard. He would later say, "The singularity of Berthe Morisot was to live her painting and to paint her life, as if it were a natural and necessary function, linked to her vital regime, that this exchange of observation for action, of creative will for light."


For the first anniversary of his death, from March 5 to 21 (or 23), 1896, Durand-Ruel, with the help of Degas, Rouart and his daughter Julie Manet, organized a retrospective of his paintings, watercolors, pastels, drawings and sculptures that included more than four hundred pieces.

In 1983, Elizabeth Kennan, President of Mount Holyoke College, and C. Douglas Lewis, curator of sculpture at the National Gallery of Art, who admired Berthe Morisot's paintings, decided to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the founding of Mount Holyoke College by organizing a major retrospective of the artist's work at the National Gallery of Art and two other American museums. In addition, the four principal patrons of the college were among the first to collect the works of Berthe Morisot. They were the pioneers of a recognition that, according to Sophie Monneret, was not given to her out of sexism. In recent years, there has been a form of rehabilitation of Berthe Morisot. The Palais des Beaux-Arts in Lille and the Fondation Gianadda in Martigny hosted a major retrospective of her works in 2002. The Musée Marmottan devoted a retrospective to her from March to August 2012: it was the first retrospective to be held in Paris in half a century (the last being the Musée Jacquemart-André in 1961). Other monographic exhibitions, of lesser importance, highlight the artist to the European public: the Fondation Denis et Annie Rouart in Lausanne in 1997 and the Musée de Lodève in 2006. In 2018-2019, a major tour of North America (Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, Barnes Foundation and Dallas Museum of Art) and Paris (Musée d'Orsay) is organized.

Cottage in Normandy and the Wildenstein affair

On January 11 and 12, 2011, during a search at the headquarters of the Wildenstein Institute in connection with one of the many cases of embezzlement of which the Wildensteins, father and son, are accused, inspectors from the financial brigade discovered Berthe Morisot's painting Chaumière en Normandie, 1865, oil on canvas, 46 × 55 cm.

During the inventory of the estate, the academicians Daulte and Wildenstein had taken down the paintings adorning the walls of Anne-Marie Rouart's apartment and had spread them out on the floor so that they would not be considered as furnishings and would not be returned to the legitimate heir, Yves Rouart.

Following this maneuver of spoliation, orchestrated by the executors of Anne-Marie Rouart's estate, this painting had been misappropriated to the detriment of her nephew, Yves Rouart. Chaumière en Normandie had been declared a private collection in the authoritative catalog of Daniel Wildenstein. Among the major pieces from Anne-Marie Rouart's estate was a very fine collection of works by Berthe Morisot. Other works included Gauguin, Degas, and Manet.

According to Mrs. Rouart's will, most of this enormous collection went to the Académie des Beaux-Arts, and another to Yves Rouart, Julie Manet's grandson. The latter had never been able to obtain more than a few minor works listed by the executors of the will, Jean-François Daulte, Daniel Wildenstein and the latter's son Guy Wildenstein, who were supposed to protect the collection in the vaults of the Wildenstein Institute.

It was only in 2011 that the Chaumière en Normandie finally reappeared and that Yves Rouart was able to launch a procedure to obtain it. This painting had been listed in the Wildenstein catalog as a vague private collection without mentioning the name of its original owner, nor the place from which it had been taken, nor that of its legal heir.

Yves Rouart, who initially sued the Académie des Beaux-Arts and signed a revisable memorandum of understanding with the executors of the will in 2000, has challenged this memorandum. "If it turns out that Morisot's beautiful collection is to be removed from the Marmottan Museum, it would be a great loss for the public and for the French state. Anne-Marie Rouart's collection also included the famous portrait of Berthe Morisot by Manet. It was to be sold to pay the estate by the executors. The French state opposed the sale of this work abroad and bought it back for several million euros. It is now one of the masterpieces of the Musée d'Orsay.

In 2013, the Marmottan-Monet Museum still houses about 80 paintings by Berthe Morisot.

Selection of works

This selection is taken from the Berthe Morisot book by Charles F. Stuckey, William P. Scott, and Suzanne G. Lindsay, itself taken from the catalogue raisonné drawn up by Marie-Louise Bataille, Denis Rouart, and Georges Wildenstein in 1961. Lindsay, itself taken from the catalog raisonné established by Marie-Louise Bataille, Denis Rouart, and Georges Wildenstein in 1961. There are variations between the dates of execution of the works, the dates of their exhibition, or the dates of purchase of Berthe Morisot's works, and confusions between the titles, notably the Ports.

Public collections

Non-exhaustive list. The sources indicated give access to the visualization of the works. The places are classified in alphabetical order (country then city and names).

With more than twenty-five museums collecting some fifty paintings and watercolors, the United States is the country where the presence of Berthe Morisot's works is most important.


Berthe Morisot Gallery

In addition to these, there is the Portrait of Berthe Morisot by Adèle d'Affry, 1875, in the Museum of Art and History in Fribourg, Switzerland. Adèle d'Affry painted several other portraits of Berthe Morisot that have not been located.


In chronological order of publication :


  1. Berthe Morisot
  2. Berthe Morisot
  3. Les frères Manet étaient trois : Gustave, (1835-1884), ami de Charles Baudelaire, que Manet prit comme modèle pour sa toile Jeune Homme en costume de majo, Eugène, qui devint l'époux de Berthe Morisot, et Édouard
  4. en avril ou mai 1974, les biographies se contredisent sur la date exacte, le père étant mort le 24 janvier 1874, elle attendit la fin de son deuil
  5. Certaines toiles de Berthe Morisot sont au catalogue de plusieurs expositions impressionnistes parce qu'elles ont été exposées plusieurs fois avant d'être vendues ou non
  6. Selon les biographies, les dates de l'exposition et le nombre exact des œuvres varient légèrement. Le catalogue en ligne de la bibliothèque de Lisieux annonce plus de 363 œuvres, Sophie Monneret : environ trois cents, Stuckey, Scott et Lindsay : plus de quatre cents
  7. Higonnet, S. 5–8 und Rouart, S. 15–16.
  8. Higonnet, S. 8
  9. Higonnet, S. 14
  10. Roe, S. 85
  11. ^ The scene L'Entrée du port is often confused with L'Entrée du port de Cherbourg purchased in 1874 by Durand-Ruel, or confused with Le Port de Cherbourg
  12. Higonnet, Anne (1995). Berthe Morisot (en inglés). Berkeley: University of California Press. p. 175.
  13. Jihui, Zhu. «Berthe Morisot: the woman impressionist». Capita Selecta European Art: Monet to Dali. Consultado el 3 de mayo de 2018.

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