​Berthe Morisot

Posted by Elizabeth Goodman on 18th May 2019

​Berthe Morisot

Berthe Morisot was a French impressionist painter, born the granddaughter of the painter Jean-Honore Fragonard. She painted a wide range of subjects including domestic scenes, portraits and landscapes. Born during a time when women were not allowed to join any official art institutions, Ms. Morisot would work on refining her craft nonetheless. Precluded from receiving wider acclaim, born the daughter of a high-ranking government official, their social circles were comprised of powerful people. As such, she and her sister earned respect and developed a reputation for their art informally through social connections and art circles.

By the late 1850s, she and her sister would travel to Paris to study under Joseph Guichard. It has been held that the sisters, after starting to challenge Guichard's instruction, were passed on to become students of Guichard's friend, Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot. Developing their skills in landscape art, this transition would serve to help them to better learn how to create these outdoor scenes. Berthe, unlike her sister, would stay on and work for Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot for many years. She would eventually have her work displayed in the venerated state-run art show, The Salon, in 1864. This would mark a turning point in her evolution as a painter, earning her a spot at this prestigious show for the following 10 years.

Berthe would make the acquaintance of Edouard Manet, a fellow artist with whom she would form a lasting friendship. These artists would serve to greatly influence each other's work throughout the duration of their friendship. The fickle nature of artists is captured in what happens after Berthe Morisot would move away from Corot, and would eventually look upon the work she did at that time with contempt. Moving onto a more modern style of painting, she would eventually refuse to show her new work at The Salon. It was hardly as if her work was no longer accepted at this show, but rather she refused them. Like most artists who adamantly refuse to be held in by the confines of expectations and convention, Ms. Morisot took her new modern work and put it on display at the first independent show of impressionist paintings. Some of the paintings she showed include The Harbor at Cherbourg, Hide and Seek and The Cradle.

Berthe Morisot would become part of the group of painters in Paris at this time who would eventually be called the impressionists. By 1874, at the age of 33, Ms. Morisot would marry Eugene Manet, who was the brother of her long-time artist friend. The subject of many of her paintings going forward would be that of her daughter, Julie, and this can be seen in the timeline of her work. Dying in 1895, Ms. Morisot had a rich life, filled with passionate expression of a talent she may have come by through heredity. Be that as it may, she fought, perhaps from a position of familial strength, to open up the world of French art to women who would come after her. She was one of the few women in the original impressionist group, a spot she claimed through skill, refusing to let gender preclusion thwart her progress.

View our Berthe Morisot Gallery.