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Berthe Morisot – The 19th Century Female Impressionist

If you are a fan of Berthe Morisot’s artworks, then you must visit two fantastic art museums in Paris. The Musee Marmottan Monet and the Musee D’Orsay.

The Musee Marmottan Monet owns the largest Berthe Morisot art collection in the world. The famous impressionism museum, Musee D’Orsay, showcases ten of her paintings.

Below is a list of the MUST see Berthe Morisot artworks that you should look out for when you visit the Musee D’Orsay!

Berthe Morisot – A Trailblazing Female Artist!

Berthe Morisot was a trailblazing female artist in the 19th century. She managed to successfully enter the male-dominated art world in a time when most females did not dare to try!

As a female, Berthe Morisot was expected to marry and have children. However, Morisot had different dreams and defied the social norms of her time. Although she did eventually marry and have one daughter, Berthe Morisot continued to work as an artist throughout her entire life. She even retained her maiden name as an artist!

When she died in 1895 at the young age of 54, she left behind around four hundred paintings.

Berthe Morisot Artworks
Berthe Morisot Artwork

After Her Death, Berthe Morisot Fell into Obscurity

Berthe Morisot was a central figure in the revolutionary impressionism art movement. In her lifetime, she was far more famous and successful than her male counterparts, such as Monet, Renoir and Degas. However after her death, the male-dominated art world and historians overlooked her achievements & contribution to the impressionism art movement for decades!

Although she is still far less known that her male contemporaries, Berthe Morisot’s artworks have been rediscovered by the art world. Historians are now recognizing her contributions to the impressionism art movement. The true value of her artworks have earned their rightful place in the art world .

Today, many prestigious art museums around the world are scrambling to own a Berthe Morisot artwork to enhance their 19th century impressionism art collection!

Berthe Morisot Pastel Artwork
Berthe Morisot Pastel Artwork

Three Berthe Morisot Artworks at the Musee D’Orsay

The Musee D’Orsay owns ten Berthe Morisot paintings. Below is a list of three of them that you must look out for:

1. Portrait of Her Sister Edma Morisot, 1871,

This is one of a few paintings that Berthe painted of her older sister, Edma Morisot. Berthe’s sister, was also a very talented artist. Some even say that she was more talented than Berthe. However, Edma decided to give up art when she married a navel officer. She chose to follow the traditional trajectory of becoming a full time wife and mother. Edma occasionally posed for her sister, and appears in quite a few of Berthe Morisot’s artworks.

Edma Morisot Portrait painted by Berthe Morisot
Berthe Morisot Portrait of her Sister, Edma Pontillon

It seems that Edma sometimes missed painting. In one letter to Berthe, she wrote the following words:

“…I am often with you in thought, dear Berthe.  I’m in your studio and I like to slip away, if only for a quarter of an hour, to breathe that atmosphere that we shared for many years…”

Check out the incredible portrait that Edma Morisot painted of her younger sister Berthe before she gave up art. Her exceptional talent is clear!!

2. The Cradle, 1872

The Cradle is considered one of Berthe Morisot’s most famous artworks. In this painting, she captures an intimate moment of her married sister, Edma, gazing down at her baby daughter Blanche. This one of many artworks that Berthe Morisot painted around the theme of motherhood and family.

As a female artist, Berthe Morisot was limited in what she could paint. As a woman, it was socially unacceptable for her to wonder around public places alone or take day trips into the countryside to paint. For this she needed a chaperone. Painting nudes was of course a HUGE no no!! Berthe Morisot opted for depicting females in their domestic settings.

Morisot exhibited The Cradle in the first Impressionist exhibition in 1874. Unlike the scorn that her fellow impressionists received, Morisot’s painting was received well by the art critics. However, she was not able to sell it and the painting remained in the hands of the family.

The Cradle - Berthe Morisot painting of Edma and her baby
One of the most famous Berthe Morisot Paintings – The Cradle

3. Young Girl in a Ball Gown, 1879

This beautiful painting depicts a young, upper-class woman in a ball gown. This impressionism style painting was presented for the first time at the fifth impressionist exhibition in Paris in 1880. Again the general public and art world scorned the impressionists, but the continued to applaud & support Berthe Morisot’s artworks.

Charles Ephrussi, a French art art historian, critic and art collector, attended the fifth impressionism exhibition. He wrote and published the following analysis of Young Girl in a Ball Gown painting in the Gazette des Beaux-Arts:

“Berthe Morisot is very French in her distinction, elegance, gaiety and nonchalance. She loves painting that is joyous and lively; she grinds flower petals onto her palette, in order to spread them later on her canvas with airy, witty touches, thrown down a little haphazardly. These harmonise, blend, and finish by producing something vital, fine, and charming”.

A fellow artist bought this painting. This painting changed hands until 1894, when the State bought it back for showcasing at a public art museum.

Berthe Morisot impressionism painting entitled: Young Girl in a Ball Gown
Berthe Morisot Artwork: Young Girl in a Ball Gown, 1879

Did you know that Berthe Morisot was also Edouard Manet’s Muse & Sister-in-Law?

Find these Manet portraits of Berthe Morisot at the D’Orsay Museum

While visiting the Musee D’Orsay, look out for four portraits of Berthe Morisot painted by her close friend, fellow artist and brother-in-law, Edouard Manet. It is rumored that there may have been something more amorous between the two artists, even though Manet was a married man.

Edouard Manet Portrait of Berthe Morisot
Edouard Manet painting of Berthe Morisot at the Musee D’Orsay

In 1868, Berthe Morisot only 27 years old, met Edouard Manet who was 36. Manet recognized her talent instantly and they became firm friends. She wrote in a letter to her sister Edma in 1869  “I think he has a decidedly charming temperament, I like it very much.”

Was she in love with Manet even though he was a married man? Was it reciprocated? In any event, Berthe Morisot ended up marrying Edouard Manet’s younger brother Eugene, also an aspiring artist.

For many years, art historians assumed that Manet was the “teacher” and Morisot the “student” in their relationship. However, today it is understood that they probably stood on equal ground, influencing each other’s artworks.

Berthe Morisot painting of her husband Eugene Manet
Berthe Morisot Artworks

Press here to read about the wonderful Van Gogh paintings you should look out for when visiting the Musee D’Orsay.

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