On the surface, Eugene Manet on the Isle of Wight, an 1875 pseudo-portrait of the artist Berthe Morisot’s husband (and brother of Édouard Manet) is a lighthearted scene from a family vacation. However, Eugene Manet on the Isle of Wight can also be cited as an example of Berthe Morisot’s occasional use of painting to explore male perspectives and the male gaze.
In this painting, Eugène looks out the window, and the artist’s placement behind him creates an effect that allows the viewer of the work to see the world outside through his eyes. His attention is drawn to a passing woman and child, whose representation is a further commentary on the artist’s interpretation of the male gaze.
The woman’s face is entirely obscured by the bottom edge of the windowpane, limiting her in the viewer’s eyes to a skirt, breasts, and hat. One of the few critically acclaimed and financially stable female painters of her time, Berthe Morisot was known to use her artwork to explore and comment on gender and social roles.
Berthe Morisot’s Eugene Manet on the Isle of Wight can be found in the Musee Marmottan in Paris, France.