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Berthe Morisot
Woman at Her Toilette
1875-80
Oil on canvas

23 3/4 x 31 5/8 inches


Art Institute of Chicago

Excerpt from The Art Institute of Chicago:

Consistent with the Impressionist aesthetic that Berthe Morisot fervently espoused, Woman at Her Toilette attempts to capture the essence of modern life in summary, understated terms. The painting also moves discreetly into the realm of female eroticism explored by Edgar Degas, Édouard Manet, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir but seldom broached at this time by women artists. Rendered with soft, feathery brushstrokes in nuanced shades of lavender, pink, blue, white, and gray, the composition resembles a visual tone poem, orchestrated with such perfumed and rarified motifs as brushed blonde hair, satins, powder puffs, and flower petals. The artist even signed her name along the bottom of the mirror, as if to suggest that the image in her painting is as ephemeral as a silvery reflection. Morisot exhibited in seven of the eight Impressionist group shows; this painting was included in the fifth exhibition, in 1880, where her work received high acclaim. She was a particularly close friend of and frequent model for Manet, and she married his younger brother Eugène the year before she completed this painting. In addition to domestic interiors such as this one, Morisot’s pictorial realm included studies of women and children, gardens, fields, and vacation homes by the sea.

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Berthe Morisot, French, (1841-1895)
b. January 14, 1841, Bourges, France
d. 1895


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