Berthe Morisot

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Berthe Morisot, painted by Manet in 1872

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 of Berthe Morisot[edit]

sorted chronologically, by date of the quotes of Berthe Morisot
B. Morisot, 1863: 'The Old Track to Auvers', private collection
B. Morisot, 1869-70: 'The Harbor at Lorient', oil-painting on canvas; location: National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. - quote of Berthe Morisot, 1870: '..to my great surprise and satisfaction I received the highest praise [on her Lorient-paintings from Edouard Manet ]. It seems that what I do is decidedly better than Eva Gonzalès. Manet is too candid, and there can be no mistake about it..'
B. Morisot, 1872: 'View of Paris from the Trocadero', oil-painting on canvas; location: Santa Barbara Museum of Art, California
B. Morisot, 1873: 'The Craddle' (Berthe's sister Edma with her young daughter Blanche), oil-painting on canvas; location: Musée d'Orsay, Paris
B. Morisot, 1875: 'Eugène Manet à l'Ile de Wight / Eugène Manet at the Wight isle', oil-painting on canvas; location: Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris
B. Morisot, 1876: 'Psyche', oil-painting on canvas
B. Morisot, 1875-80: 'Lady at her toilette', oil-painting on canvas; location: Art Institute of Chicago U.S.
B. Morisot, 1880: 'Roses Trémières', oil-painting on canvas; location: Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris
B. Morisot, 1883: 'Bords de Seine / Banks of the Seine', oil-painting on canvas; location: National Gallery Oslo, Norway

Quotes, 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.
    • quote from her letter Berthe's sister Edma Morisot, 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 1984, pp. 33-34
  • The tall fellow Bazille has done something I find quite fine: a young girl [in his painting 'View on the village' ] in a very light dress in the shadow of a tree beyond which one sees a town. There is a good deal of light, sunlight, He is trying to do what we [Berthe and her sister Edma] have so often tried to bring off: to paint a figure in the open air. This time I think he has succeed.
    • quote in a letter to Berthe's sister Edma, after visiting the Salon of Paris in 1869, from: Morisot's Correspondence, p. 32; as quoted in The history of Impressionism by John Rewald, (Fourth edition), Museum of Modern Art, 1974, New York p. 643
  • He [Manet] came about one o'clock [the day for submitting works for The Paris Salon of 1870]. he found it [ 'Reading', Berthe's double-portrait of her mother with her pregnant sister Edma] very good, except for the lower parts of the dress. He took the brushes and put in a few accents.. ..mother was in ecstasies. That is where my misfortune began. Once started, nothing could stop him, 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
    • Manet was 'correcting' in her painting, fresh-made by Berthe; after some desperate hours Berthe recovered the painting, and resubmitted it in the nick of time. The jury of the Salon accepted it and she was even complimented on her work
  • Corot spoiled the 'étude' we admired so much when we saw it at his home, by redoing it in the studio.
    • Quote in a letter to Edma, 1869, from Morisot's Correspondence, p. 32; as quoted by Margaret Sehnan in Berthe Morisot, the first lady of Impressionism; Sutton Publishing, 1996 - (ISBN 0 7509 2339 3), p. 86
  • During the day I received a visit from Puvis de Chavannes; he saw what I had done [painted in 1869-70 in Lorient] and didn't seem to think it was too bad.. ..The Manet's [the brothers Eduard and Eugene Manet] came to see us [Berthe and her mother] Tuesday evening, we visited the studio; to my great surprise and satisfaction I received the highest praise. it seems that what I do is decidedly better than Eva Gonzalès. Manet is too candid, and there can be no mistake about it. I am sure that he liked these things a great deal; however, I remember what Fantin says, namely, that Manet always approves of the painting of people whom he likes.
    • quote from her letter, September 1870 to Edma, from Morisot's Correspondence, p. 32; as quoted in Psychoanalytic Perspetives on Art, ed. Mary M. Gedo – 2013, p. 155
  • You [Berthe's 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.
    • quoe in Berthe's letter 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 of the Manet brothers [ Edouard and her future husband Eugène Manet ] tell about all the horrors we are likely to face, they [in Paris, during the war between France and Germany] are almost enough to discourage even the bravest of us. [But] you know they [the Manet brothers] always exaggerate, and at the moment they see everything in the blackest possible light.
    • In a letter to Berthe's sister Edma, who stayed then in Brittany, 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 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..
    • quote in Berthe's letter 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.
    • 2 quotes on weather, 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.
    • quote in her letter to sister Edma, circa 1872/73, after Manet had forgotten to show one of her paintings to art-dealer 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, brother of Edouard Manet ] who, I believe, sincerely loves me. I have entered into the positive life after having lived for a long time in by chimeras.
    • quote from Berthe's letter to her brother Tiburce, 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.
    • 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
    • Berthe is describing the embankment of river Thames
  • My work is going badly.. ..it is always the same story: I don't know where to start. I made an attempt in a field, but the moment I had set up my easel more than fifty boys and girls were swarming about me, shouting and gesticulating. On a boat one has another kind of difficulty. Everything sways, there is an infernal lap of water; one has the sun and the wind to cope with; the boats change position every minute, etc.. .The view from my window is pretty to look at, but not to paint. Views from above are almost always incomprehensible; as a result of all this I am not doing much..
    • In a letter to her sister Edma, from the Isle of Wight, Summer 1875; as quoted in Berthe Morisot, by Kathleen Adler and Tamar Garb; Phaidon Press Limited, 1987, p. 65
  • 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, April 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 about her works]. On the other hand, we have been praised in the radical newspaper, but you don'read those [her aunts]! 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 [Manet didn't participate in this first Impressionist show, initiated by Degas. Speaking of success, he has just been rejected by the Salon; he, too, is perfectly good-humored about his failure.
    • In a letter to her aunts, 1876; as quoted in The Private Lives of the Impressionists, Sue Roe; Harper Collins Publishers, New York, 2006, p. 155
    • Berthe wrote this letter after the second Impressionist exhibition of April 1876 where she was participating with 19 pictures (Monet with 18!)

Quotes 1881 - 1995[edit]

  • The love of art.. ..reconciles us to our lined faces and white hear. [Berthe Morisot was 40 years then]
    • quote in a letter 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 [Manet was dying] 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, January 1886; as quoted in The Private Lives of the Impressionists, Sue Roe; Harper Collins Publishers, New York, 2006, pp. 262-263
    • Berthe visited Degas in his studio
  • My ambition is limited to capturing something transient.
    • In Correspondence de Berthe Morisot, ed. Denis Rouart; Paris (1950)

Quotes about Berthe Morisot[edit]

sorted chronologically, by date of the quotes about Berthe Morisot

19th century[edit]

  • They [the sisters Berthe and Edma ] will become painters. Are you fully aware of what that means? It will be revolutionary – I would almost say catastrophic – in your bourgeois society. Are you sure you won't curse Art, because once it is allowed into such a respectable and serene household, it will surely end by dictating the destinies of your two children.
    • Quote of Joseph Guichard to Madame Morisot, End of 1857; in Berthe Morisot, Fourreau, pp. 13-14; as quoted in Berthe Morisot, the first lady of Impressionism, by Margaret Sehnan; Sutton Publishing, 1996 - (ISBN 0 7509 2339 3), p. 38
    • This frequently repeated anecdote originated with Tiburce Morisot, Berthe's brother; Berthe is 16 years old then
  • Since it is not necessary to have had a long training in draughtsmanship at the Academy to paint a copper pot, a candlestick and a bunch of radishes, women succeed quite well in this domestic type of painting. Miss Berthe Morisot brings to the task really a great deal of frankness with a delicate feeling for light and colour.
    • Quote of fr:Paul Mantz, in 'Gazette des Beaux-Arts', about the Salon of 1865; as quoted in Berthe Morisot by Monique Angoulvent, Morance, Paris, 1933, p. 19-20.
    • Two works each of the sisters Morisot were exhibited on the Paris Salon of 1865; the same Salon where Manet's painting 'Olympia' created much uproar, in and outside the Palais de l'Industrie
  • I am often with you.. ..in my thoughts. I follow you everywhere in your studio and I wish that I could escape, were it only for one quarter of an hour to breathe again that air in which we lived.
    • Edma Morisot, in a letter to Berthe, March/April 1869; from ‘Morisot’s Correspondence’, p. 32; as quoted by Margaret Sehnan in Berthe Morisot, the first lady of Impressionism; Sutton Publishing, 1996 - (ISBN 0 7509 2339 3), p. 79
    • Edma married 8 March 1869 with Adolphe Pontillon [an early friend of Manet]; Edma was already 30. So the two sisters got separated.
  • We also consider that Miss Berthe Morisot's name and talent are too important to us to do without.
    • Quote by Edgar Degas (1873), in his letter to Berthe's sister Cornelie Morisot, in Spring 1873; as quoted in The private lives of the Impressionists, by Sue Roe, Harpen Collins Publishers, New York 2006, p. 119
    • Degas was initiating the first Impressionist show – and was in this question in strong opposition to Eduard Manet who wanted to exclude his former pupil Berthe Morisot.
  • If possible, come and take care of the placing [for the first Impressionist 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.
    • Quote by Edgar Degas, in his letter to Berthe, Spring 1876), when he was initiating the Impressionist Exhibition of 1876; as quoted in The Private Lives of the Impressionists, by Sue Roe; Harper Collins Publishers, New York, 2006, pp. 152-155
  • ..'new charm, infused by feminine vision'
    • Quote of Emile Zola, c. 1877, in his journal: 'Le message de L'Europe'
  • 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.

20th century[edit]

  • It was Corot, [c. 1860-1864] who taught her [Berthe Morisot] to bathe in air her landscapes, her figures, her still-life compositions; it was he who taught her the difficult lesson of understanding values.
    • In: Berthe Morisot, Drawings, by Elizabeth Mongan; Tudor Publishing Company, 1960, p. 48; as quoted by Margaret Sehnan in Berthe Morisot, the first lady of Impressionism; Sutton Publishing, 1996 - (ISBN 0 7509 2339 3), p. 46
    • fr:Joseph Guichard initiated the contact between Corot and the two young sisters. The Morisot family spent some time in the summer of 1861 in Corot's place in Ville d'Avray
  • Berthe Morisot's place in art history has been shaped by a specific legacy of admiration and family curator-ship.. .. -that her art was truly impressionist because it was so truly 'feminine'-.. ..[so] she was damned by the very terms in which she had once been so enthusiastically acclaimed.
  • ..For all that, Berthe Morisot has been misunderstood. Her life has rapidly taken on the mantle of myth. It is a charming myth, originating with the critic of Théodore Duret, but elaborated by Paul Valéry, the renowned philosopher, critic, essayist and poet and her nephew by marriage. Indeed it is a magical myth, perpetuated by friends, relatives and descendants for the best part of a century.
    • Quote of Margaret Shennan, in her 'Preface', of Berthe Morisot, the first lady of Impressionism; Sutton Publishing, 1996 - (ISBN 0 7509 2339 3), p. xiv
  • Edma painted a portrait of Berthe the artist about this time [1860-61]. It is not only a sisterly dedication, it is an important statement. Berthe stands before her easel, her right hand central to the picture, poised to touch her palette with a brush. The pretty round-faced girl had vanished.
    • Quote of Margaret Sehnan in Berthe Morisot, the first lady of Impressionism; Sutton Publishing, 1996 - (ISBN 0 7509 2339 3), p. 49-50

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