art history meme: 2/8 artists

Berthe Morisot, French, 1841-1895.

Berthe Morisot is interesting for a few reasons—first of all, she was a member of the notorious Impressionist group, which was ridiculed for their portrayal of the different fleeting impressions and effects of light. Secondly, she is one of only two female artists who are officially considered part of the Impressionist group, the other being the American painter Mary Cassatt. Thirdly, she painted almost exclusively women and children, primarily in domestic settings but also in outdoor settings. And fourthly, she managed to get the retired master and pre-Impressionist painter Camille Corot to teach herself and her sister how to paint.

An early teacher warned her mother that her passion for painting was “unseemly” for a wealthy young lady, but this same passionate young lady managed to get several of her paintings into the notoriously judgmental Salon. She enjoyed a lively circle of acquaintances, including fellow Impressionist painter Edouard Manet, whom she possibly influenced. Out of the Impressionist circle, their painting styles are often very similar. They focus less on the effects of light and delicate brushstrokes and create more realistic images of people, although they are still less defined than periods preceding Impressionism. Morisot’s individual style is notable for her light, airy painting and pale coloring. She created over two hundred works, mostly genre paintings, in primarily watercolor and oil, although she also worked with charcoal and pastels.