Berthe Morisot

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Berthe Morisot, painted by Manet
'The Harbor at Lorient' - 1869
'The Craddle' - 1872
'Woman at her toilette' -1875
'Roses Trémières' - 1880

Berthe Morisot (January 14, 1841March 2, 1895) was a French painter and a member of the circle of painters in Paris who became known as the Impressionists. Undervalued for over a century, possibly because she was a woman, she is now considered among the first league of Impressionist painters.

Quotes[edit]

1860 - 1880[edit]

  • He [Manet] begged me to go straight up and see his painting ['Le Balcon' - Berthe was model for this painting], as he was rooted to the spot. I've never seen anyone in such a state, one minute he was laughing, the next insisting his picture was dreadful; in the next breath, sure it would be a huge success.
    • remark to her sister Edma, after visiting the Salon of Paris in 1869; as quoted in The Correspondence of Berthe Morisot, with her family and friends Denish Rouart with Adler and Garb; Camden Press London 198, pp. 33-34
  • He [Bazille] has tried to do what we have so often attempted - a figure in outdoor light [in his painting, exposed on the Salon of 1863] - and this he seems to have been successfull.
    • remark to her sister Edma, after visiting the Salon of Paris in 1869; as quoted in The Correspondence of Berthe Morisot, with her family and friends Denish Rouart with Adler and Garb; Camden Press London 198, p. 37
  • ..once started, nothing could stop him [Manet, correcting in a painting, fresh painted by Berthe - a portrait of her sister Edma with her young child Cornélie]; from the skirt he went to the bust, from the bust to the head, from the head to the background. He cracked a thousand jokes, laughed like a madman, handed me the palette, took it back; finally by five o'clock in the afternoon we had made the best caricature you have ever seen.
    • her remark, Winter of 1869; as quoted in The Private Lives of the Impressionists Sue Roe; Harper Collins Publishers, New York, 2006, pp. 62-63
  • You [her sister Edma] have a serious attachment, and a man's heart utterly devoted to you. You should realize how lucky you are.. .A woman has a huge need of affection. To try to withdraw into ourselves is to attempt the impossible.
    • remark to her sister Edma, circa 1870; as quoted in Degas, his Life, Times and Work Roy McMullen, Secker & Warburg, London 1985, p. 166
  • The stories the Manet brothers [Edouard and her future husband Eugène Manet] tell about all the horrors we are likely to face ([in Paris, during the war between France and Germany] are almost enough to discourage even the bravest of us. [But] you know they always exaggerate, and at the moment they see everything in the blackest possible light.
In a letter to her sister Edma,who stayed then in Britanny, 1870; as quoted in The Private Lives of the Impressionists Sue Roe; Harper Collins Publishers, New York, 2006, p. 72
  • He [Manet] holds up that eternal Mademoiselle [Eva] Gonzales as an example; she has poise, perseverance, she can get her things finished whereas I am incapable of doing anything properly. In the meantime he [Manet] has started her portrait again, for the twenty-fifth time. She poses every day, and every night he rubs out the head...
    • remark to her sister Edma, circa 1871; as quoted in The Private Lives of the Impressionists Sue Roe; Harper Collins Publishers, New York, 2006, p. 57
  • I do not like this place [Saint-Jean-de-Luz - a small fishing-village on the Spanish border] I find it arid and dried up. The sea here is ugly. It is either all blue - I hate it like that - or dark and dull.
  • There is constant sun, good weather all the time, the ocean like a slab of slate - there is nothing less picturesque than this combination
    • In a letter to her sister Edma, Summer 1873; as quoted in The Correspondence of Berthe Morisot, with her family and friends Denish Rouart - newly introduced by Kathleen Adler and Tamer Garb; Camden Press London 1986, p. 43
  • I am keen to earn some money.. ..beginning to lose all hope.. .What I see most clearly is that my situation in impossible from every point of view.
    • remark to her sister Edma circa 1872/73, after Manet had forgotten to show one of her paintings to art-buyer Durand-Ruel; as quoted in The Correspondence of Berthe Morisot, with her family and friends Denish Rouart - newly introduced by Kathleen Adler and Tamer Garb; Camden Press London 1986, pp. 89-90
  • I have found an honest and excellent man [Eugène Manet] who, I believe, sincerely loves me. I have entered into the positive life after having lived for a long time in by chimeras.
    • remark to her brother Tuburce, 1875; as quoted in The Correspondence of Berthe Morisot, with her family and friends Denish Rouart - newly introduced by Kathleen Adler and Tamer Garb; Camden Press London 198, pp. 95-96
  • ..the glimpse of the dome of St. Paul's through the forest of yellow masts, the whole thing bathed in a golden haze.
    • describing the embankment of river Thames In a letter to her sister Edma, August 1875; as quoted in The Correspondence of Berthe Morisot, with her family and friends Denish Rouart - newly introduced by Kathleen Adler and Tamer Garb; Camden Press London 198, p. 105
  • If you read some of the Parisian newspapers , among others the 'Figaro', so beloved of the right-thinking public, you must have learned that I am part of a group of artists who opened a private exhibition [in the art-gallery of Durand-Ruel in Paris, Spring 1876]. You must also have seen what favour this exhibition enjoys in the eyes of these gentlemen [Berthe refers to the critical articles in Paris with all their mockery]. On the other hand, we have been praised in the radical newspaper, but you don'read those! Well, at least we are getting attention, and we have enough self- esteem not to care. My brother-in-law [Edouard Manet] is not with us [because Manet didn't participate]. Speaking of success, he has just been rejected by the Salon; he, too, is perfectly good-humoured about his failure.
    • In a letter to her aunts after the Impressionist exhibition of 1876 where Berthe was participating with 19 pictures; as quoted in The Private Lives of the Impressionists Sue Roe; Harper Collins Publishers, New York, 2006, p. 155

1880 - 1995[edit]

  • The love of art.. .. reconciles us to our lined faces and white hear. [Berthe Morisot was 40 years then]
    • remark to a friend, circa 1881; as quoted in The Correspondence of Berthe Morisot, with her family and friends Denish Rouart - newly introduced by Kathleen Adler and Tamer Garb; Camden Press London 1986, p. 117
  • His agony was horrible, death in one of its most appealing forms, that I once again witnessed at a very close range. If you add to these almost physical emotions my old bond of friendship with Edouard, a entire past of youth and work suddenly ending, you will know that I am devastated.
    • remark to her sister Edma, April 1883; as quoted in The Correspondence of Berthe Morisot, with her family and friends Denish Rouart - newly introduced by Kathleen Adler and Tamer Garb; Camden Press London 198, p. 131
  • As I admired it [a red pencil and chalk drawing by Degas of a young mother, nursing her child] he showed me a whole series done from the same model and with the same sort of rhythm. He is a draughtsman of the first order; it would be interesting to show all these preparatory studies for a painting to the public, which generally imagines that the impressionists work in a very casual way. I do not think it possible to go further in the rendering of form.
    • note in her Journal of January 1886, about her visit to Degas' studio; as quoted in The Private Lives of the Impressionists Sue Roe; Harper Collins Publishers, New York, 2006, pp. 262-263
  • My ambition is limited to capturing something transient.
    • Correspondence de Berthe Morisot, ed. Denis Rouart Paris (1950)


About Berthe Morisot[edit]

  • If possible, come and take care of the placing [the painting show of Spring 1876, in the art-gallery of Durand-Ruel in Paris, with nineteen pictures of Berthe Morisot]. We are planning to hang the works of each painter in the group together, separating them from any others as much as possible.. .. please, do come and direct this.
    • In a letter by Edgar Degas in Spring 1876, who was preparing the Impressionist Exhibition of 1876; as quoted in The Private Lives of the Impressionists Sue Roe; Harper Collins Publishers, New York, 2006, pp. 152-155
    • Emile Zola wrote after this exhibition in 'Le message de L'Europe' about Berthe Morisot: ..'new charm, infused by feminine vision'. The art-critic Wolf wrote in 'The Figaro': 'There is also, as in all famous gangs, a woman. Her name is Berthe Morisot, and she is a curiosity. She manages to convey a certain degree of feminine grace in spite of her outbursts of delirium'.

External links[edit]

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