- Category : Art-Fine-art-artist
- Type : PSP
- Profile : 4/6 - Opportunistic / Role Model
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Maya 4
French artist, an impressionist painter and from a noted family, the great-great granddaughter of Jean Honore Fragonard. When Morisot began her study of painting in the late 1850s, the Louvre did not contain a single painting by a female. She was a third daughter, followed five years later by a son. The family was well-to-do and the girls were even given a minimal education. Berthe showed musical ability on the piano before she turned to drawing, along with her sister Emma.
They began to copy the great artists in the Louvre, where they were strictly chaperoned, and also forbidden to take formal art studies: their society had little use for independent, ambitious women. At 19, the sisters began painting along the banks of the Oise, and they began to produce extraordinary work. Berthe was thrilled by the work of Edouard Manet and over the years posed for 11 of his paintings, a venture that was slightly on the edge of scandalous as an artist’s model was generally considered to be a woman of low virtue.
An incredible, albeit silent talent of the impressionist school, Morisot succumbed to the accepted station of an artistic female by painting the lifestyle of women in the retiring rooms of the French bourgeoisie, in what became known as "the feminine visual culture." While this culture supported Morisot's skill and provided her with endless subject matter including women poring over dress patterns and posing for fittings, it impeded her when she sought to reposition herself as a serious artist. Despite the free-flowing progressiveness of the Impressionist movement and her connection to Edouard Manet, pressure on Morisot to conform to the acceptable role of a talented woman caused her deep emotional pain. Following a crisis of depression she destroyed most of her early work and wrote "I don't want to work anymore for the sake of working. It seems to me that a painting (of mine) could sell and that's my only ambition."
As the girls turned 30, their family was determined that it was time for them to marry. Edma married a naval officer in 1869, a loss for Berthe when she moved away. Edma never painted again. Always over-disciplined and fighting depression, Berthe wrote to her sister that painting was the only way she could keep her melancholy at bay.
In 1870, Napoleon declared war on Prussia, and Paris came under siege. Even the wealthy were driven to eat rats and a rough bread, a time of privation and loss of life. With the Third Republic, her mother determined to present a suitor whom Berthe would accept, suitable or not. Manet, a long-time friend (and possibly a secret love) finally proposed that Berthe marry his brother, Eugene. At 33, she wedded, on 12/22/1874, but refused to take her husband's name. Eugene was a lawyer who was not ambitious enough to practice, but it turned out to be a favorable match. He appreciated Berthe's skill and beauty and made no resistance to her circle of young, rebellious artist friends.
Six artists mounted a show on 4/15/1874 and are still regarded as the founders of Impressionism: Monet, Degas, Sisley, Renoir, Pissaro and Berthe Morisot. The reviews were so dreadful that Eugene Manet threatened one critic to a duel. They had six major Impressionist exhibitions of which she missed only one - when she gave birth to her daughter Julie Manet, born when she was nearly 38. She treasured the child and painted her many times.
In 1880, the group began to dissolve as a new group of groundbreaking painters were emerging. Morisot's dear friend Manet died on 4/30/1883 and shortly after, her husband began a six-year decline. She mourned both of the brothers. Three years later, Morisot herself died of pneumonia at age 54, 3/02/1895, Paris. Her death certificate noted that she had "no occupation."
In her later years she wrote "I don't think there has ever been a man who treated a woman as an equal, and that's all I would have asked, for I know I'm worth as much as they."