Berthe Morisot (January 14, 1841 – March 2, 1895) was a painter and a member of the circle of painters in Paris who became known as the Impressionists. Undervalued for over a century, overshadowed by the greats such as Monet, she is now considered among the first league of Impressionist painters.
In 1864, she exhibited for the first time in the highly esteemed Salon de Paris. Sponsored by the government, and judged by academicians, the Salon was the official, annual exhibition of the Académie des beaux-arts in Paris. Her work was selected for exhibition in six subsequent Salons until, in 1874, she joined the "rejected" Impressionists in the first of their own exhibitions, which included Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas, Claude Monet, Morisot, Camille Pissarro, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Alfred Sisley. It was held at the studio of the photographer Nadar.
She became the sister-in-law of her friend and colleague, Édouard Manet, when she married his brother, Eugène.
Morisot was born in Bourges, Cher, France into a successful bourgeois family. Both she and her sister, Edma Morisot, chose to become painters. Once Berthe Morisot settled on pursuing art, her family did not impede her career.
She was born into a family that, according to family tradition, had included one of the most prolific Rococo painters of the ancien régime, Fragonard, whose handling of color and expressive, confident brushwork influenced later painters. By age twenty, she had met and befriended the important, and pivotal, landscape painter of the Barbizon School, Camille Corot, who excelled in figure painting as well.
The older artist instructed Berthe and her sister in painting and introduced them to other artists and teachers. Under Corot's influence, Morisot took up the plein air method of working. As art students, Berthe and Edma worked closely together until Edma married, had children, and no longer had time to paint so intensely as Berthe. Letters between them show a loving and cordial relationship, underscored by Berthe's regret at the distance between them and about Edma's withdrawal from painting. Edma wholeheartedly supported Berthe's continued work and the families of the two sisters always remained close.
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