Berthe Morisot

Berthe Morisot was accredited as one of the three “les trois grandes dames” by Gustave Geffory for the impact her paintings played in the Impressionist era. Born into privilege on January 14, 1841 in Bourges, France, Morisot’s family moved to Paris shortly after her birth and enrolled their daughters for art tutors as was conventional for their gender and class at that time. Quickly, Morisot excelled with her sister and she began to take it as her life’s calling and not just a social nicety.

As a woman, she was unable to attend official art school, so she would go to the Louvre with her sister where they copied paintings and learned the style of painting outdoors. In 1864, at the age of 23, Morisot submitted two landscape paintings into the Salon de Paris and continued to have her work accepted for a decade. In 1874, they rejected her work so she joined the group of Impressionists and became their first woman member.

Her art style began with short, rapid brush strokes but she graduated to longer, more sinuous ones that helped to define and sculpt. Morisot also developed a style where she left the edges of the canvas unfinished, which lended a sense of spontaneity to the paintings. As a woman artist in this time, her subjects were focused on domestic life and portraits, painting what she knew and experienced. She claimed, “It is important to express oneself... provided the feelings are real and are taken from your own experience.” In 1872, her work started to cause a stir and by 1880 she was credited to be among the “best”. At the young age of 54, she contracted pneumonia and passed away in Paris on March 2, 1895.

"Real painters understand with a brush in their hand." - Berthe Morisot