>Berthe Morisot

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As I said in my last blog, I have been studying painting of late to help me along in my new endeavor of mastering the medium of oils. In particular, I have been studying female painters because I draw inspiration from them, being a female too. I have been copying an Impressionist painting but I find that my natural style seems to pull toward realism and, at times, Rococo. The very idea of abstract art makes me homicidal. I can’t tolerate it.

On the left, you’ll see a portrait of Berthe Morisot done by her brother-in-law, Édouard Manet. She was a girl in a boys club, being part of the circle of French Impressionists including Édouard Manet, Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas, Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Alfred Sisley. Who wouldn’t want to be a fly on the wall for those dinner party conversations?!

She was born in 1841 to a bourgeois family that held fast to a tradition that they were related to the great Rococo painter of the ancien régime, Fragonard. At the young age of 23, her work was exhibited in the Salon de Paris, and her work was selected for six future salons. However, in 1874, she chose to exhibit her work with the other “rejected” Impressionists in their own salon exhibition. Remember, at that time, Impressionism was considered rebellious and lacked structure, technique and talent. The French just weren’t sure of how to interpret the work because no one had ever seen it before. Morisot painted like the other Impressionists, mostly domestic scenes of daily life, class restrictions, women, landscapes and so forth. She avoided dirty urban scenes and full nudes due to her haute bourgeois lifestyle, which would have been entirely inappropriate. Like Le Brun in the generation before, she married within the art community and had a daughter named Julie, who was the subject of many of her paintings. She died at the age of 54 of pneumonia.

This is a photograph of Berthe Morisot by Felix Nadar.

Here are some works by Berthe Morisot for study. Note the freedom of expression in Impressionism that was not present in the Rococo movement of the previous generations.

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