Impressionist Berthe Morisot at RISD Museum of Art

by | Jul 9, 2022

Berthe Morisot was one of the organizers of the Impressionist painters first exhibition in 1874, and was the only woman in the show. She exhibited in 7 of the 8 Impressionist exhibitions, only missing the one when her daughter was born.

During her lifetime she was described by art critic Gustave Geffroy as one of “les trois grandes dames” (the three great ladies) of Impressionism, alongside Marie Bracquemond and Mary Cassatt.

Largely overlooked in the century after her death, recently art experts have rediscovered Berthe’s genius, and many now cite her as the best  and most innovative of all the French Impressionists (although I see Mary Cassatt as her equal, and both women light years ahead of the gentlemen.)

This painting, Child in a Red Apron (1886) by Morisot at the Rhode Island School of Design Museum of Art depicts her daughter, Julie (born in 1878), her favorite model. The young girl looks out the window at a snowy landscape…the window at left seems to be slightly ajar, and the ribbons of the apron seem to be blown by a slight breeze. Berthe is a master of brushstrokes that create the feeling of movement and activity in a piece of stationary art. Since photography had recently become popular, artists no longer needed to create photographic images, and were free to explore new ways of depicting life and movement.

We will be exploring her work in the upcoming online workshop (and recording), “Artists and Astrology, Patterns in Creativity: Berthe Morisot and Edouard Manet,” info is here.