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Berthe Morisot was a French painter. She was part of the group of artists that would give birth to the Impressionist movement. She is considered by Gustave Geffroy as one of the three great dames of the Impressionism, alongside Mary Cassat and Marie Bracquemond.
Berthe Marie Pauline Morisot was born on January 14, 1841, in Bourges, France, under an influent and wealthy bourgeois family. Her father was a senior administrator of the Cher department; he also studied architecture at the École des Beaux-Arts. Her mother was Jean-Honoré Fragonard’s great-niece, Fragonard was one of the most important and prolific painters of the Rococo movement. At age 11, her family moved to Paris.
Berthe Morisot and her sisters had art lessons on their childhood, as it was quite common for the women born in bourgeois families to have this kind of education. One of their teachers was Joseph Guichard, who also ran and taught at a school for girls. Around 1857 he introduced the Louvre to them, where they began to study the paintings by looking and copying them. However, they were not allowed to have formal art training as well as forbidden to work at the museum unsupervised. Despite these barriers, the experience at the museum had an important role, make acquaintances with many male young artists, like Monet and Manet.
Morisot’s early stylistic influences were Camille Corot’s landscapes. They were introduced by Guichard around 1861. Two years later, she was under Achille Oudinot’s teachings. She had a keen interest in painting in plein-air. During this period, Morisot focused primarily on watercolors since it’s easier to carry and also using pastel as well. It was only around age 34 that she began painting oil more often as she develops more confidence in the medium, although she continued to work on watercolor and pastels. Morisot was very demanding of her work, going for a long preparation phase, making a significant number of drawings and sketches before each painting.
Morisot was rather well acquainted. She was a very close friend of Edouard Manet, whose brother, Eugene Manet, she married. The couple had only one daughter, Julie, who regularly posed for his mother, as well as for Manet and Renoir.
Berthe Morisot died in March 1895, a victim of pneumonia. She passed away in Paris and was laid to rest at the Cimitiere de Passy.