The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Berthe Marie Pauline Morisot, 1841-1895

Nationality: French
Date of Birth: 1841.01.14
Place of Birth: Bourges
Date of Death: 1895.03.02
Place of Death: Paris


Berthe-Marie-Pauline Morisot, a painter, pastellier and printmaker, was the daughter of Marie-Joséphine-Cornélie and Edme Tiburce Morisot, an upper middle-class family. Her sister Marie Edma Caroline (1839-192?), later Mme Pontillon, was also an artist. Their other siblings were Marie Elisabeth Yves (1838-1893), later Mme Gobillard, and Marie Charles Tiburce (1845-ca 1930). In 1874 Berthe married Eugène Manet, the brother of Edouard Manet, for whom she modelled. Their daughter Julie was born in 1878.


Morisot studied drawing under Geoffroy-Alphonse Chocarne and Joseph-Benoît Guichard, a pupil of Ingres and Delacroix, as well as educating herself through copying the works of Veronese and Rubens in the Louvre. She received artistic advice and encouragement from Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot and Achille-François Oudinot and in the early 1860s began to work en plein air at Pontoise, Normandy and Brittany. She exhibited at the Salon from 1864 to 1868. She worked in pastel and watercolour as well as oil, and in the late 1880s experimented with lithography and drypoint.

Morisot was an important figure in the Impressionist exhibitions of the 1870s and 1880s, and her painterly modern-life subjects were admired by critics such as Paul Mantz and Théodore Duret (e.g. Summer's Day, 1879, National Gallery, London). In 1893 she exhibited at the New English Art Club in London, a group with which JW exhibited in 1888. As with JW, the dealer Paul Durand-Ruel was an important figure for Morisot in the commercial world, buying and selling her works with those of the other Impressionists.

Morisot's studio at 40 rue de Villejust attracted such literary and artistic figures as Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas, Mary Cassatt and Stéphane Mallarmé. On 27 February 1890 JW wrote a letter to Mallarmé in which he mentioned a lecture which Mallarmé was giving that evening in her studio (#03795). Morisot died of pneumonia in 1895, when JW was in Paris, but he declined to go to the funeral as 'it would be too saddening' (#06626).


Adler, K., and T. Garb (eds and trans.), Correspondance de Berthe Morisot, London, 1986; Roger-Marx, C., 'Les Femmes peintres et l'Impressionnisme: Berthe Morisot', Gazette des Beaux-Arts, n.s. 2, vol. 38, 1907, pp. 491-508; Mongan, E., Berthe Morisot: Drawings, Pastels, Watercolours, New York, 1960; Bataille, M. L., and G. Wildenstein, Berthe Morisot: Catalogue des peintures, pastels et aquarelles, Paris, 1961; Johnson, J., and A. Gruetzner, Dictionary of British Artists 1880-1940, Woodbridge, 1980; Adler, K., and T. Garb, Berthe Morisot, Oxford, 1987; Higonnet, A., Berthe Morisot's Images of Women, Cambridge, MA, 1993; Garb, Tamar, 'Berthe Morisot', The Grove Dictionary of Art Online, ed. L. Macy, (accessed 14 February 2003).