Woman and child on a balcony: Berthe Morisot

Woman and Child on a Balcony: Berthe Morisot

Woman and Child on a Balcony is an 1872 painting in the Impressionist style by the leading female French artist Berthe Morisot. This work is located in the Ittleson Foundation in New York City in the United States.

Berthe Morisot was one of the three “Great Ladies” of Impressionism, with the other two being Mary Cassatt and Marie Bracquemond. She was born into an affluent family and was related to the famed Rococo artist, Jean-Honore Fragonard.

It was typical for girls from bourgeois families to learn art yet it was not acceptable for them to have formal education. Berthe and her sister wanted to learn painting to paint the likeness of their father for his birthday.

In her early days, few of her art has survived as she would destroy any of her works that she was not satisfied with. Later in 1874, she would show her art to the Impressionists. She also was close friends with Edouard Manet and would later marry his brother, Eugene. Because of her connections with other Impressionists, she has also become a subject in many other Impressionist paintings. One notable example is The Balcony by Manet.

Despite her efforts, she was never taken as seriously as the other male artists of her day. Male critics always noted her art that it had a “feminine Charm”. One reason was her light brush strokes. She would paint without sketching on the canvas beforehand. This created her light brushstrokes as she quickly tried to recreate the time and light. Because of not sketching, it did bring criticism that her work felt ‘unfinished’.

Berthe Morisot’s subject matter was also a contributing factor to her lack of recognition during her lifetime. She mostly painted what was around her as a woman of the 19th century. Her subject matter was normally intimate domestic scenes between people rather than grand nature or cityscapes. Scenes involving a parent and their child or woman in thought were common subject matter for Morisot. However, she did practice plein air, the act of painting outside. This was typical for Impressionist artists. Many of her models were her children or close friends.

Woman and Child on a Balcony is one such painting. A genre scheme of a fashionably dressed woman, with her infant daughter, who is also well dressed, looking out from a balcony.

Morisot was one of the few female artists that were financially successful. Coming from an affluent background, she did not need to worry about making money from her paintings. Though, her paintings did sell well eventually.

In 1875, she had the two highest bids for her two paintings. Even in recent years, she had become the highest-priced female artist in 2013. While she is not as known as her male contemporaries, her name has been revived by feminist art historians, who place her with the great Impressionists.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *