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  • Russ Ramsey

Getting to Know Berthe Morisot

For this Art Wednesday we’ll look at the Impressionist painter Berthe Morisot. She and the other impressionists broke free from the strictures of the Paris Salon, and started a new movement that shaped art thereafter.

Morisot, On the Balcony, 1872


Berthe Morisot married Eugène Manet, brother of her friend and colleague Édouard Manet, who painted this portrait of her.

Manet, Berthe Morisot with a Bouquet of Violets, 1872


On being taken seriously as an artist, Morisot said, “I don’t think there has ever been a man who treated a woman as an equal and that’s all I would have asked for, for I know I’m worth as much as they.”

Morisot, Grain Field, 1875


On being a working artist in a male-dominated culture, Morisot said, “I believe that however fond one is of one’s husband, one does not relinquish a life of work without some difficulty.”

Morisot, Eugène Manet on the Isle of Wight, 1875


Morisot couldn’t sell. She wrote to her sister, “I am keen to earn some money, beginning to lose all hope. What I see most clearly is that my situation is impossible from every point of view.”

Morisot, The Mother and Sister of the Artist, 1869


A critic of the Impressionists said, “There is also, as in all famous gangs, a woman. Her name is Berthe Morisot, and she is a curiosity. She conveys a certain degree of feminine grace in spite of her outbursts.”

Morisot, The Dining Room, 1875


Another critic said, “In her exquisite works there is a morbid curiosity that astonishes and charms. Morisot seems to paint with her nerves on edge, providing a few scanty traces to create complete disquieting evocations.”

Morisot, The Cradle, 1872


Berthe Morisot, along with Mary Cassatt had a lot of cultural barriers to overcome in the art world. You see it in the begrudging compliments from critics in the previous two posts.

Morisot, Summer's Day, 1879


That’s all for today’s Art Wednesday featuring the works of Berthe Morisot. As you dig more into her life, pay attention to the community of artists around her. Community matters.

Morisot, The Harbor at Lorient, 1869

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