Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Morisot, Berthe

The Cradle
oil on canvas
56 x 46 cm
Musee d'Orsay, Paris, France

The Cradle was painted in Paris in 1872. It shows one of the artist's sisters, Edma, watching over her sleeping daughter, Blanche. Berthe Morisot showed The Cradle at the Impressionist exhibition of 1874 - the first woman to exhibit with the group. The painting was scarcely noticed although important critics commented on its grace and elegance. After unsuccessful attempts to sell it, Berthe Morisot withdrew it from display and The Cradle stayed in the model's family until it was bought by the Louvre in 1930.

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.