Berthe Morisot was born January 14, 1841, in Bourges, France. Her father was a high-ranking government official and her grandfather was an influential Rococo painter. She and her sister Edma began painting as young girls and earned recognition despite not being allowed to attend any official art institutions (which weren’t open to women).
Berthe and Edma traveled to Paris to study and copy works by the Old Masters at the Louvre Museum as well as learn how to paint outdoor scenes. Here she exhibited in the Paris Salon in 1864 and would continue to have a regular place in the show for the next 10 years.
In 1868, fellow artist Henri Fantin-Latour introduced Berthe Morisot to Edouard Manet. The two formed a lasting friendship and greatly influenced one another’s work. She joined the Impressionist movement and eventually left the Salon to show with her friends. (Think of the Impressionists at the Indie painters of the late 1800s.)
In 1874, Berthe Morisot married Manet’s younger brother, Eugne, also a painter. The marriage provided her with social and financial stability while she continued to pursue her painting career. Able to dedicate herself wholly to her craft, Morisot participated in the Impressionist exhibitions every year except 1877, when she was pregnant with her daughter.
Berthe Morisot portrayed a wide range of subjects—from landscapes and still lifes to domestic scenes and portraits. She also experimented with numerous media, including oils, watercolors, pastels, and drawings.
After her husband died in 1892, Berthe Morisot continued to paint, although she was never commercially successful during her lifetime. She did, however, outsell several of her fellow Impressionists, including Monet, Renoir, and Sisley. Berthe Morisot contracted pneumonia and died on March 2, 1895, at age 54.
Berthe Morisot was the model of a modern woman, a century early. She held her own in a world dominated by men; all while successfully having a family just like so many women strive to do today. Manet said of her: “This woman is an exceptional painter. Too bad she isn’t a man.”
Berthe Morisot was born January 14, 1841, in Bourges, France to a comfortable middle class family. Her grandfather was a famous painter and her family appreciated art. She and her sister Edma were given private painting lessons all growing up and were even well known artists despite the fact that women weren’t allowed to publicly show their art or attend the art schools.
Berthe joined, and was an influential artist in the Impressionist movement. She married the younger brother of a famous Impressionist painter and had a little girl. She continued to focus on her art all through her life, even though it was uncommon for a woman to be more than a hobby painter in the 1800s. She died quite young of pneumonia. This combined with the fact that she was a woman, so she didn’t have as many opportunities as an artist, means that we don’t have many of her paintings. But we can see her influence on this important movement in art.
Why do you think they called them the Impressionists? If you look at her paintings, you can see how the brushstrokes are very loose and not detailed. Impressionists painted quickly– just giving you the impression of the subject. Today we are going to experiment with this style. Monet (that we studied in December) was also an Impressionist.
Berthe Morisot was an adventurous artist. She was known for mixing media (media is what we use to make the art…paint, clay, crayons, pencil, etc.) Today we are going to do the same thing.
1. Think of your subject. Many Impressionists painted everyday scenes; such as Morisot’s laundry hung out to dry or a mother at her baby’s cradle.
2. Now quickly sketch the main details with the pastels. Don’t worry about getting too detailed…just give the impression.
3. Use the thickened or Impasto paint and the paint textured with sand to put in some broad stokes and add dimension to your piece. Use loose fast strokes. Don’t overwork the paint or you will loose the texture.
4. (Find a place to set them to dry…these will take a little longer to dry.)