Monday, August 12, 2019

Berthe Morisot - Orsay, Paris map

Of course Berthe Morisot at the musee Orsay has absolutely nothing to do with the July Paris map.
I got the July Map off finally on last Thursday (8 August)and the museum is open till 9:45 pm. And the 87 bus stops in front so I went (finally to see something!). The Morisot retrospective is a collaborative effort that originated with the Quebec museum, the Dallas museum and the Barnes Foundation. Frankly I did not expect to be surprised but I was immediately taken with how abstract her compositions were.

Her subjects are classic 19th century feminine subjects much like her contemporary, Mary Cassatt.
Mother and child, well-to-do women in fancy dress or relaxing in the countryside. But look how abstractly she composes this picture.
A plethora of triangles. can you count how many? I had to make a doodle on the spot. Her training began early with the best, Jean-Babtiste Corot, since women were not yet allowed into the Academy de Beaux Arts.
Edouard Manet painted her at least a dozen time. Here in a detail from 'The Balcony'. His strong graphic black and white paintings must have had an influence on her. She married his brother, Eugene so he was around for consults no doubt. Degas too was her champion.
Yet she evolved her own Impressionistic style.
A master of painting white diaphanous fabrics, Morisot captures the multi-colors in those whites. She paints grasses, trees like the eye sees. Backgrounds fade in and out of soft focus.
Even her brushstrokes are distinctive and fluid. Sometimes the backgrounds are left empty in her portraits. Critics called them unfinished but she knew what she was doing.
I wish there had been more photos of her, and not the tiny ones placed above tall boards of text. I wish French museums would consult me on some of these things. Who wants to do squats to read a descriptive label (even if it is good for your hips) or use binoculars to see a photo? Coming home that night, Notre Dame, with or without her spire, is still glorious. If you enjoyed this post, share with a friend. Receive a Paris letter 💌or Paris map in your 📮mailbox + souvenirs at ETSY.
Cheers Carolg and Bear in Paris 🇫🇷


  1. Interesting! Had not heard of her..And the nmber of trainges..I don't think I would have ever noticed if not for you and there are so many!

    1. You have seen her work but didnt know it I bet.
      Do you visit the musee de Quebec?

  2. Hope to get to that exhibit as I love her work. I too wish you were a consultant to museums --- and lots more.

    1. I shou,d sent out a printed note for the suggestion box...haha
      Maybe that's how the French stay thin - all that bending down to read labels.
      In my fav artshop Boesner, you need to kneel and then twist yr head sideways.
      ??? Why?

    2. PS 22 September is last day.

  3. Bonnie in CA1:56 PM

    On my list!
    Can’t wait to see in person.
    Love their beautiful restaurant with the painted ceiling. Spellbinding to dine in there. Although big clock window restaurant is tempting, too.
    Thank you for showing us this. I love the close-up showing her brush strokes.

    1. I have never ventured into either restaurant.
      Must put on the list !

  4. one of Best discussions w “slides” on Berthe Morisot!
    (and Art History is my career!)...
    sharing w my friends

    1. How nice Sharon,
      Thank you !! Most kind.
      I was surprised to find how visually abstract Morisot is, even though her subject matter is OTT feminine.

  5. Angela2:54 PM

    Must comment to tell you how "Impressionistic" the water appears in the night photo at the end of your email.
    Glorious photo!

    1. Thanks Angela ❤️
      Monet saw this.
      Glorious Paris !

  6. Kay Q3:02 PM

    Musée Marmonttan has some nice ones.

    1. Many of the paintings came from the Monet-Marmotton Kay

  7. The painting with the baby cradle (lots of triangles) was one that I sold hundreds and hundreds of.
    In an earlier career I was a rep for 100 greeting card lines and carried a large line out of London called Kensington cards. This was one of their images. Papyrus sold them as a new baby card.

  8. Bonnie11:32 PM

    Love your post on Berthe Morisot. Love her work. So sad the exhibit ends in September. There was a French TV movie about her...can’t find it...even on DailyMotion.

  9. Anonymous6:28 AM

    "Tante Berthe's eyes were huge...they were not brown as many people think but green..."
    Thus wrote about Berthe Morisot the last of the great French symbolist poets, Paul Valery.
    He was married to the orphan Jeannie Gobillard, Morisot's niece and charge, the daughter of her deceased sister.

    You can read about this here:

    You show us "Le Balcon", that fabulous painting by Edouard Manet in which he painted the lovely Morisot beside the violinist Fanny Claus, Madame Manet's best friend.
    Maria Russell

    1. Thanks for more deets Mary!
      Thereare so many attenuous (I think I made that up but you get the idea) stories I didn't know where to begin so I kept more to the character of her paintings...

  10. Eugenia3:12 PM

    I’m enjoying the Parisbreakfast visits to art exhibits, especially to the Gare D'Orsay and Berthe Morisot. She has been a favorite of mine for years.
    Mille merci

  11. Love, love, love her work!

  12. Allie in NYC11:18 PM

    Very interesting and informative,

  13. A nice blog with nice photos.... keep-up the good work.

  14. I adore her work. I finally sent the last of the stationery cards I had of her paintings not long ago and was sad to see them go. Detroit has some of her work. What a great exhibition to enjoy. (And I'm with you on the signs.)


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