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In The Garden

By July 15, 2016 Art, Color, Composition 4 Comments


This painting is On the Balcony of Eugene Manet’s Room at Bougival by Berthe Morisot, 1883. Berthe, along with Marie Bracquemond and Mary Cassatt, was described by a prominent French art critic as one of “les trois grandes dames” – the three great ladies – of the Impressionist movement.

She grew up in a well-off family in Bourges, France, and from an early age, took painting and drawing lessons with her sister. Their art teacher brought them to the Louvre, where they could “learn by looking”, and copying the great works to advance their own skills. And while her sister married and ended her art career, Berthe persevered, and in 1864, at age 23, she exhibited at the prestigious Salon de Paris – the annual exhibition of the Académie des beaux-arts in Paris.

Here is her painting Lilacs At Maurecourt, done in 1874:


She had paintings accepted for the Salon for six more years, but in the year she did this painting, 1874, she broke away from exhibiting at the traditional French art establishment, and joined the Salon-“rejected” Impressionists, which included Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas, Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir. She married Édouard Manet’s brother, Eugène, so unlike her sister, she was able to enjoy a married life and continue her art.

Here is one of my favorites of her works, Doll On A Porch, 1884:


She was considered an excellent colorist – able to use color to create depth and space in her work. And her fellow impressionists considered the composition of her work (how she arranged the elements in a scene) outstanding. She focussed mainly on domestic scenes, painting what she saw around her, every day. And she mostly did plein air painting – painting from looking at the actual scene in real time, rather than making studies and drawings to paint from in a studio.

So on this lovely, hot and humid summer day, I hope you enjoy these paintings of Berthe’s, look around you, and see what ordinary, everyday scene might just make a terrific rug design. Or go out and look at your garden!


  • Theresa Jack says:

    Mary Jane I love your blog. It is inspiring to learn about woman artists. I’ve never seen her work before or knew that she existed. I like to zoom in and explore the color schemes. I just walked Cole around the block and admired my mother in laws neighborhood gardens. Enjoy this day. Loves. T. Thank you for your words & pictures

    • mjanep says:

      Theresa! Thanks for the nice comment! And I know what you mean about studying the color schemes – I spent quite a while just looking at and thinking about how Berthe used blue in that last “Doll on the Porch” painting…

  • jeni says:

    In deleting some old emails this morning, I ran across this post of yours which somehow got lost in all the other stuff. Delightful to look at. Like Theresa, I also didn’t know about this babe and now I do. Thank you.

  • Mary Jane Peabody says:

    Thanks, Jeni – I just re-read it too, and enjoyed her work all over again!

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