Stunning Berthe Morisot Paintings at the Musee Marmottan Monet
For some strange reason, the Musee Marmottan Monet is overlooked by so many travelers & art lovers. It certainly does not get the overwhelming crowds of the Musee D’Orsay. This museum is one of Paris’s treasures, owning a world class Impressionism art collection. In fact, one of its claims to fame is that the Musee Marmottan Monet owns the largest Claude Monet art collection in the world!
Secondly, the Marmottan Monet museum owns the largest art collection of the talented French female impressionist, Berthe Morisot. In this article, I will focus on some of the wonderful Berthe Morisot paintings that you should look out for when visiting this magnificent museum! You will not be one of those travelers who misses this hidden gem!
Some Interesting Facts about Berthe Morisot
Berthe Morisot was a French artist of the 19th century who came from a wealthy family. As part of her education in culture, she and her sisters studied music & art. Their private art teacher soon noticed that both Berthe and her sister, Edma were extremely gifted artists.
Berthe Morisot did not want to get married at all!
The Morisot parents assumed that their daughters would eventually marry & become mothers. Painting was a nice hobby before marriage. Edma did marry and give up painting, as expected of her. However, Berthe had very different plans. She dreamed of becoming a professional artist, something that was quite unheard of for women in those days! She had no plans of marrying at all!
Edouard Manet Introduced Berthe Morisot to Impressionism
When Berthe Morisot saw the artworks of Edouard Manet in a Paris exhibition, it was for her an incredible eye-opener into the new world of modern art. It had a profound effect on her and she decided to move away from traditional art. From that point on, she started painting like the impressionists, using a brighter palette of colors and painting with quick, visible and unrefined brush strokes. She wanted to be part of the changing art world and capture scenes reflecting the modern world.
Not long after, and with Degas’ invitation, Morisot participated in the first exhibition of the “indépendants” with nine canvases in 1874. Her fellow artists, Claude Monet, Pierre Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley, saw her immediately as an equal.
She was an independent woman both in her life and work and was determined to be recognized as a full-fledged artist. This she achieved in her lifetime, despite all the odds against her as a woman and as an impressionist.
After her death, Berthe Morisot fell into obscurity
Strangely, Berthe Morisot fell into obscurity after her death, even though she was more successful than most of the male impressionists during her lifetime. For decades, she was remembered as Edouard Manet’s sister-in-law and less so for her beautiful artworks.
However in the recent decades, the art world rediscovered Berthe Morisot and her artworks. She is now celebrated as one of the best female artists of the 19th century and also as a central figure in the impressionism art movement.
The Berthe Morisot Art Collection at the Musee Marmottan Monet
Since Berthe Morisot was wealthy, she did not paint in order to make a living. In fact, she kept most of her paintings and they stayed with the family. After she died, Berthe Morisot’s descendants decided to donate her artworks to the Musee Marmottan Monet. In total, the museum now owns 25 oil paintings, 75 watercolors and some pastels and drawings. This is the largest collection of her artworks anywhere in the world and it is an amazing collection.
Berthe Morisot paintings to look out for:
As a female, Berthe Morisot was not able to travel around the city or take solo walks through countryside without an escort. This was the confined life of women in the 19th century. Liberté, égalité, fraternité was the slogan for men only.
This meant that Morisot’s subject matter for her paintings were limited to scenes of female domestic life. Some of her landscape paintings, she manged to capture while on a family vacation. But most of her artworks depict women, children, family and garden scenes. Her models were predominantly her family (her husband Eugene Manet & their daughter Julie).
Below are some of her artworks that you should look out for when visiting the Marmottan museum:
1. Eugene Manet on the Isle of Wight
Morisot painted this beautiful piece when she and her husband, Eugene Manet (also an artist), went to the Isle of Wight for their honeymoon. During this holiday, Berthe spent a lot of her time painting. Often, she and Eugène would take their easels and painting tools and would find a picturesque spot on the island to paint.
Berthe also set up her easel in their hotel room and painted the view from her window. This painting is an example of this. She persuaded her husband to pose for her and Eugene did this, although reluctantly. She wrote to her sister, Edma:
“…I began something in the sitting room with Eugène; poor Eugène is taking your place; but he is a much less accommodating model; he’s quickly had enough…”
2. The Garden in Bougival
Berthe Morisot together with her husband and daughter, spent the summer months in Bougival between 1881 and 1884. Around the house was a very large garden full of colorful flowers. This garden inspired many beautiful paintings, such as The Garden at Bougival (1884) and Roses Trémières (Hollyhocks), to name a few.
3. Roses Trémières (Hollyhocks)
4. At the Ball
Berthe Morisot created this painting for the upcoming second impressionism exhibition. Like the impressionists, she wanted to depict a scene that represented modern life. She chose to depict an upper-class woman attending a ball. This woman is wearing a lovely evening gown, elegant white gloves, and dangling earrings. She also has flowers in her hair and holding an hand-painted fan. Such was the formal attire of the fashionable, wealthy, Parisian women. Morisot never managed to sell this painting and so she hung it on the wall of her own house.
5. Berthe Morisot Self Portrait
In this self portrait, Berthe Morisot portrays herself as an artist, holding a paint brush. She painted this portrait when she was in her mid forties, portraying herself with with graying hair. However, Morisot depicts herself as a determined woman and artist, looking directly ahead and facing the viewer.
Indeed, this self portrait seems to be a statement to the Paris art world, declaring that even though they do not yet accept female artists, she has defied them and is pursuing her artistic career anyway!
6. Portrait of Julie Manet
Julie Manet was born in 1878 and was the only child of Berthe Morisot and Eugene Manet. Her wealthy parents decided that their daughter would study under private teachers rather than attend a regular school. Unsurprisingly, Julie was exposed to literature, music and art from a very early age.
Artists such as Monet, Renoir, Degas and Uncle Edouard Manet were frequent household guests in her home. She was a beautiful girl and was often asked to model for artists, such as Edouard Manet, her mother and Pierre Auguste Renoir.
Tragically, Julie lost both her parents within a three-year period. First her father, and then her mother, leaving her orphaned at the age of 16. She went to live with her cousins & continued to receive support from her parent’s artistic friends.
At the age of 22, Julie Manet married the artist Ernest Rouart, the son of the painter Henri Rouart. The couple had three children. It is these children who inherited many of Berthe Morisot’s artworks. They decided to give their grandmother the recognition she rightly deserved by donating their Morisot art collection to the Marmottan Monet Museum.
Practical Information for the Musee Marmottan Monet
Open Tuesday to Sunday from 10.00 until 18.00 (last entry: 17.15)
Thursday night until 20.00 (last entry: 19.15)
2 Rue Louis-Boilly, Paris
Parking: Vinci Park Passy (78, rue de Passy, 75016 Paris)
Métro: line 9, stop: La Muette or Ranelagh
RER: line C, stop: Boulainvilliers
Line 22, stop: La Muette–Boulainvilliers
Line 32, stop: Louis Boilly or Ranelagh
Line 52, stop: La Muette–Boulainvilliers
Line 63, stop: Porte de la Muette
Line 70, stop : Louis-Boilly
Line P.C. 1, stop: Ernest Hebert or Porte de Passy
To find out about exhibitions at the Musee Marmottan Monet, press here.
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