Berthe Morisot

Ackermans Fine Art

Berthe Morisot

Petite Fille a L’Oiseau

French (1841-1895)

Berthe Morisot was born at Bourges, France on January 14, 1841.  She grew up in a bourgeois family which, in a break from usual practice, encouraged Berthe and her sister, Edme, in their painting.  She first studied with Guichard, a follower of Ingres, but in 1862 she made the acquaintance of Corot, and went over to his disciple Oudinot.  Her next great influence was Manet, and it was under his guidance that she took up figure-painting as well as landscapes, exhibiting both kinds of work at the Salons from 1870 on.  As a young woman, she joined the avant-garde and showed works at the impressionist exhibits that challenged the official Salon; her earlier paintings are lovely examples of what might be called mainstream impressionism.

In 1874 Morisot married Manet’s brother Eugene, about whom very little is known. They had a daughter, Julie.  Morisot began to paint remarkably challenging pictures, and her fellow artists began to admire her more and more.  Unfortunately, she was not thought by everyone to be a painter of the first rank.  At first she had more reputation as a hostess than an artist, entertaining such men of talent as Degas, Renoir, Pissaro, Manet and the poet, Mallarme.  She often posed for Manet, being his model for some of his well-known works.  She died in March of 1895.

Sources include:
Mark Stevens in Newsweek, September 28, 1987
Masterpieces of Art: Catalogue of the New York World’s Fair 1940