April 3, 2009

First Impressions # 3 - Answer

This week’s mystery guest is Berthe Morisot. 1841 -1895. Most of you knew that already because there are very few female Impressionist painters. Apart from Morisot, Eva Gonzales, Mary Cassatt and Marie Bracquemond are the only female Impressionists on the radar.

Morisot’s father had studied painting and architecture as a young man and Morisot’s Grandfather was the renowned painter Jean-Honore Fragonard of The Swing fame. One can imagine that their artistic influences were a major part of her upbringing. After studying at an early age at the knee of the artists Joseph-Benoit Guilchard and Camille Cordot, Morisot was capable enough to exhibit her paintings at Paris Salon shows in 1865, 1866, 1868, 1870, 1872 and 1873.

In 1868, Morisot was introduced to the artist Edouard Manet and they soon developed a mutual admiration society for one another. Morisot frequently appeared in Manet's work. Berthe Morisot's letters to her sister strongly suggest an affection between them. Manet’s most famous portrait of her is Berthe Morisot with a Bouquet of Violets. Among others are The Balcony and Repose. He once gave her an easel as a Christmas present. In 1874, Morisot married Manet's brother, Eugene. Berthe and Edouard burned each other's letters when she married. Edouard never painter her again. Eugene and Berthe they had one daughter, Julie.

Berthe Morisot once 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 I know I'm worth as much as they," But in a time when such treatment was rare, despite the fact that she had produced more than 860 paintings, her death certificate stated she had "no profession." She did not become known internationally as an artist until long after her death, when the London Impressionist Exhibition of 1905 displayed 13 of her paintings.

She was buried at Passy cemetery next to Eugene and Edouard Manet.


Poetikat said...

It's unfortunate that she didn't have any real recognition while she lived. Her work was exceptional.
At least now she has some acclaim.


sallymandy said...

Wow, this is fascinating. I didn't know her name or her work. What a very interesting story about Berthe and the two Manets. And yes, really sad that she was not recognized.

I recently posted about an American woman painter who studied with American Impressionists and had a similar frustrating life reconciling gender with art.

Thanks Hazel. Fascinating, as always...and I like your revised About Me statement.


Ima Wizer said...

This is so fabulous, thank you!!!!

K. said...

If you're ever in Richmond, VA, pay a visit to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts to view this Mary Cassatt. By itself, it's more than worth the time and price of admission.