Berthe Morisot

Berthe Morisot was the daughter of a well to do family living in France. Berthe, along with her sister, always had the best of tutors, teaching her all different subjects. Eventually the notion of painting came up. Both girls were interested and wished to learn more. Berthe’s interest soon became a passion and her parents began to worry. They wanted their daughter to marry and have a family, not pursue a career in painting. Besides, everyone said that their eldest daughter was the better painter.

Against her parent’s wishes and the ideals of the times Morisot set out to find her own tutor who could teach her properly and support her decision to enter the arts. Eventually Morisot befriended painter Manet and history had begun. Manet took Morisot in, determined to teach her properly where her previous training had ended. Morisot soon fell into the company of the Impressionists, who also, unlike the Academie, the high class art society of Paris at the time, accepted her as a worthy peer and fellow artist. This influential woman seems to have succeeded where Manet’s other younger friends failed. It is only after Manet and Morisot meet that we see Manet’s style becoming determinedly more impressionistic.
Many of Morisot’s works are domestic in theme, often portraying women and children. One such work is Morisot’s Girl with a Fan. A young girl sits in a chair, fan held open in her lap. She looks down and slightly to the right, her attention completely captured by something happening that we cannot see. This painting, as all her others, is done in the loose Impressionist style that was growing in popularity at the time. Morisot was one of the most far reaching of the Impressions as far as style was concerned. Her Impressionistic style pushed the boundaries of what Impressionism was. For example, Morisot’s Portrait of Berthe Morisot and Her Daughter, while an oil painting, has elements of a sketch, Impressionism, and touches on the boundaries of abstraction.

Berthe Morisot was a very strong woman to pursue her dreams the way that she did. It was borderline scandalous to spend so much time alone with a man as Morisot did when learning to paint from Manet. Of course, she later went on to marry his brother, so both her family and public stopped their outcry. But the mid 1800s was still largely a man’s world. But Morisot, with talent and persistence, broke her way in, paving the way not only for other women to do the same, but also furthering the art world into the Post-Impressionism and more modern art.



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