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Berthe Morisot (1841 - 1895)
Morisot, a French painter, was the daughter of a top civil servant in the
Department of Cher and a grand-niece of the Rococo painter Fragonard. She
started to take lessons in drawing in 1857. Berthe Morisot was a tireless
copyist. She began with the Old Masters and ended with Corot, whose work she had
the advantage of discussing with the artist himself. In 1860-1862 she was a
pupil of Corot with her sister Edna (later Mme Pontillon). Corot advised
her to go to Auvers-sur-Oise and learn to paint plein-air.
In 1864, Berthe exhibited her first landscapes in the Salon. In 1868, she got acquainted and soon became friends with Manet, who gave her advice and painted her portraits (Repose, The Balcony, etc.). In 1872, she traveled in Spain. Starting with 1874 and until 1886 she exhibited at all the Impressionists exhibitions apart from the 4th due to illness. In 1874, she married Manet’s brother Eugène. In 1881-1883, they had a house built in Paris which became a weekly meeting place for painters and writers such as Degas, Caillebotte, Monet, Pissaro, Whistler, Puvis de Chavannes, Durect, Renoir, Mallarme and others. Mallarmé became her closest friend and greatest admirer. Berthe painted especially women and children, and was the leading female exponent of Impressionism.
In 1892, she was widowed, bought a château in Mesnil. In 1895, after her death a large memorial exhibition took place at Durand-Ruel’s with 300 pictures; the catalogue introduction was written by Mallarmé. With her fresh, bright impressions of happy domestic life, she made an important contribution to Impressionism.
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