Paintings by Berthe Morisot


Berthe Morisot (1841-1895), a talented pupil of the pastoral painter Camille Corot, experienced mild success when Edoaurd Manet introduced her to a circle of young painters. These painters welcomed her into their circle, where they debated ideas about contemporary art. Eventually this circle was to be known as the Impressionists.

As one of the only women in the Impressionist group, Berthe Morisot found herself drawing special attention from contemporary critics -- including one critic who dismissed the Impressionists as "five or six lunatics, including one woman" -- both for her gender and for her deft brushwork. In Impressionist paintings such as The Cradle and Hanging the Laundry out to Dry, Berthe Morisot examined the day-to-day lives of contemporary women, but in all of them, she displays the grace and intimacy that were the hallmarks of the Impressionist movement.

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Follow the links below to learn more about Berthe Morisot, one of the only female Impressionist painters.

  • The Harbor at Lorient: Berthe Morisot, like Camille Pissarro, was a dedicated outdoor painter. Learn about The Harbor at Lorient, an example of plein air painting.
  • Reading: Reading by Berthe Morisot was praised by critics as graceful and confident. Learn about Morisot's Reading, which was completed in 1873.
  • The Cradle: In The Cradle, Berthe Morisot examined the daily lives of ordinary women. Learn about The Cradle, by Berthe Morisot.
  • Hanging the Laundry out to Dry: Hanging the Laundry out to Dry by Berthe Morisot exemplifies the artist's gift for using light and color. Read about this Impressionist painting, which debuted at the Impressionists second exhibition.
  • Woman at her Toilette: Berthe Morisot's 1881 painting Woman at her Toilette is an example of Morisot's continued interest in capturing the quiet moments of women's lives. Read about Berthe Morisot's Woman at her Toilette, notable for its intimacy.

The first painting we'll look at by Berthe Morisot is notable for its execution of the ideas of her teacher, Camille Corot.

For more on Impressionist paintings, artists, and art history, see:

For more on Impressionist paintings, artists, and art history, see:

The Harbor at Lorient by Berthe Morisot

Berthe Morisot painted The Harbor at Lorient in 1869, after studying with painters of the Barbizon school. Morisot began to study drawing at the age of 16. For a brief time, her teacher was the Barbizon painter Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot. He encouraged Morisot to work outdoors and paint landscapes, and even though she developed her own style, his influence was evident. While on vacation in Brittany, Morisot painted coastline scenes, such as The Harbor of Lorient, and the fresh tonality and shimmering brush stroke indicate her continuing allegiance to plein air painting.

Berthe Morisot's dedication to plein air painting wasn't the only trait she shared with her fellow Impressionists. On the next page we'll look at a painting that shares other qualities with Impressionist work at the time.

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For more on Impressionist paintings, artists, and art history, see:

For more on Impressionist paintings, artists, and art history, see:

Reading by Berthe Morisot

Reading by Berthe Morisot (oil on fabric, 18-1/8x                              28-1/4 inches) is housed at the Cleveland Museum of Art.
Reading by Berthe Morisot (oil on fabric, 18-1/8x 28-1/4 inches) is housed at the Cleveland Museum of Art.

In Reading, an 1873 painting by Berthe Morisot, Morisot tackles a subject previously explored by Claude Monet and Pierre-Auguste Renoir: a contemporary woman in a park, enjoying a leisure activity. Featured here is Morisot's sister Edma. Edma wears a light, gauzy summer gown of the latest cut. A straw hat with a trailing scarf perched on the top of her head, an open fan, and a parasol complete her ensemble. Critics praised Berthe Morisot's Reading as graceful, confident, and even witty.

As one of the only female Impressionists, Berthe Morisot explored the daily lives of contemporary women. On the next page, we'll find an example of this.

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For more on Impressionist paintings, artists, and art history, see:

For more on Impressionist paintings, artists, and art history, see:

The Cradle by Berthe Morisot

Berthe Morisot's sister Edma modeled as the mother for her 1873 Impressionist painting The Cradle. The infant is Edma's own newborn Blanche. In works such as The Cradle, Morisot focused upon the day-to-day experiences of the lives of contemporary women. In presenting a mother watching her child sleep in a cradle, Berthe Morisot expresses the genuine absorption of a mother's attentions to her child's well-being without introducing an anecdote or an exaggerated sentimentality.

Berthe Morisot continued to be interested in capturing the essence of the modern woman. Keep reading to learn about other Impressionist paintings in which she pursued this aim.

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For more on Impressionist paintings, artists, and art history, see:

For more on Impressionist paintings, artists, and art history, see:

Hanging the Laundry out to Dry by Berthe Morisot

Berthe Morisot's Hanging the Laundry out to Dry (oil on Gallery of
Berthe Morisot's Hanging the Laundry out to Dry (oil on Gallery of

Berthe Morisot completed Hanging the Laundry out to Dry in 1875. With a deft touch and a pale yet subtle palette, Morisot transformed a boring subject into a dazzling study of light and color. The critics singled out Hanging the Laundry out to Dry for special praise, most notably remarking upon Berthe Morisot's command of color. Her gender was also noticed by some critics.

As Berthe Morisot matured, her paintings became more delicate, and, some critics argue, ephemeral. On the next page we'll see a good example of these traits.

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For more on Impressionist paintings, artists, and art history, see:

For more on Impressionist paintings, artists, and art history, see:

Woman at her Toilette by Berthe Morisot

In a swirl of delicate strokes, the 1875 painting Woman at her Toilette by Berthe Morisot evokes a fleeting and intimate glimpse of a woman arranging her hair at her dressing table mirror.

Woman at her Toilette features a nuanced range of icy pale tones of pink, blue, white, and silver. This painting is an example of Berthe Morisot's ephemeral approach.

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For more on Impressionist paintings, artists, and art history, see:

For more on Impressionist paintings, artists, and art history, see:

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Debra N. Mancoff is an art historian and lecturer and the author of numerous books on nineteenth-century European and American paintings. She is a scholar in residence at the Newberry Library.