Friday, February 7, 2014

Morisot, Berthe

Nude shepherdess reclining
oil on canvas
57.5 x 86.4 cm
Private Collection

Berthe Morisot (1841-1895) was a French painter and was the first woman to join the circle of the French impressionist painters. She was described as one of "les trois grandes dames" of Impressionism alongside Marie Bracquemond and Mary Cassatt.

Born into a family of wealth and culture, Morisot received the conventional lessons in drawing and painting. Having studied for a time under Camille Corot, she later began her long friendship with Edouard Manet who became her brother-in-law in 1874 when she married his brother Eugene, and was the most important single influence on the development of her style. Unlike most of the other impressionists, who were then intensely engaged in optical experiments with color, Morisot and Manet agreed on a more conservative approach, confining their use of color to a naturalistic framework. Morisot, however, did encourage Manet to adopt the impressionists' high-keyed palette and to abandon the use of black. Her own carefully composed, brightly hued canvases are often studies of women, either out-of-doors or in domestic settings. Morisot and American artist Mary Cassatt are generally considered the most important women painters of the later 19th century.