Monday, November 26, 2012

December 2012 Newsletter: Berthe Morisot

[My desire] is limited to wanting to capture something that passes; oh, just something! the least of things. And yet that ambition is still unreasonable! A distinctive pose of Julie, a smile, a flower, a fruit, the branch of a tree, and every once in a while a more vivid reminder of my family, just one of these would suffice.    Berthe Morisot (1841-1895)

Self-portrait, 1885
As you probably already know, we have been studying the Impressionists in our Thursday evening acrylics class. We have learn a lot by observing their styles and techniques, then putting that knowledge to work with brush and canvas.  I have grown to adore this period in art. Not only were these artists courageous to buck the art establishment, they were also intensively creative. One such member is someone you probably never heard of before, although she sold more paintings  in her 54 years of life than Monet, Renoir, and Sisley.[1] Her name is Berthe Morisot, the first woman to join the Impressionists in 1874.

Born into a weathy family that had an artistic history, her grandfather being the Rococo artist, Jean-HonorĂ© Fragonard (1732-1806), Berthe and her sister were given a proper education that included music and art. One of her earlier instructors was Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot (1796-1875), who also taught Camillle Pissarro, another Impressionist. Corot was famous for painting outdoors and inspired many of the Impressionists to go outside to paint.  She also studied as a copyist with her sister at the Louvre museum, usually the only place a woman could learn since they were not allowed to attend art schools (in France).

As time and experience moved forward, Morisot became known as an excellent painter. She was even accepted into the annual, government-run, art exhibit, called the Salon, every year from 1864 to 1874. Many of the Impressionists were rejected from this event. 

Bertha Morisot with a Bouquet of Violets,
Manet 1872
In 1868 a memorable meeting occurred that changed everything:  she was introduced to Edouard Manet. They became fast friends and in time, he introduced her to the Impressionist group (or the Independents as they called themselves). One of Manet's famous paintings is of Morisot,which appears above. 

Within six years, Morisot joined the group and even married Manet’s younger brother Eugene. Traditionally, a woman was expected to stop her career (if she even had one) in favor of marriage, but in this case, Morisot kept on track. In fact, she became even more prolific, painting over 350 paintings in her eighteen years of marriage. It didn't hurt either that her husband was independently wealthy.  Most of her paintings were of the ordinary person, especially family life.

What I like most about studying Morisot is that you can actually see the Impressionistic influence, not so much with optical color or subject matter, but more so with how she changed her whites. For instance, the first painting below is a picture of her sister at a window. Notice the white—it's okay.
Young Woman Seated at a Window, 1869
Now notice the second one, painted in 1872. The colors in the white are more outstanding.
The Cradle, 1872
And her 1885 The Bath painting (below) has an even higher key and more colors in the whites.

The Bath. 1885
Many of Morisot’s paintings were of her beloved daughter, Julie (1876-1966), who eventually became an artist herself, and wrote the book, Growing up with the Impressionists.  

Sadly, Eugene Manet died in 1892 and then three years later after nursing Julie  back to health from influenza, Morisot came down with pneumonia and died at the age of 54. Julie was only 16 and was taken in by one of her aunts.

I was introduced to Berthe Morisot in the book, The Private Lives of the Impressionists, by Sue Roe. I liked it so much, I just bought myself a copy. I want to re-read it.

Next month, I will be discussing a third female Impressionist: Marie Bracquemont. In 1894, she was named one of "les trois grandes dames" of Impressionism alongside Berthe Morisot and Mary Cassatt.


Please note: Visual Journaling class meets December 2, 2012 instead of second Sunday.

 2013 Coming Attractions

I can't believe a new year is nearly a month away. What happened? Where was I in 2012? Very busy and time swept by like the wind.

Fortunately, I have some fun classes and workshops up ahead. I will be getting closer to giving you more information on our trip to England in the spring of 2014,  and I'm hoping to bring back the acrylics weekend workshop on Memorial Day weekend. Beyond those two, here are the studio classes and PCC workshops planned for next year. (Website will be updated in mid-December).

2013 Winter Classes

Glastonbury Studios
beginning the week of January 6
ending the week of February 10

Tuesday evenings $70/session

7-9 p.m.
Drawing Wild Animals/Mixed media

Wednesday mornings $70/session

10 to 12 noon
Sketch’n on the Go™
Sketching Botanicals/Pen and ink

Thursday evenings $85/session

6:30 to 9:00 p.m.
Intermediate Vincent Van Gogh

Visual Journaling $20 per class

Second Sunday of the Month
1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Please note:
December 2012 meeting, December 2

PCC Winter One-Day Workshops
10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sylvania campus

Saturday, January 12 
Basic Drawing One-Day Workshop
Saturday, January 26          
Visual Journaling Mixed Media and Collage One-Day Workshop 
Saturday, February 9
Painting: Mixing Colors with Watercolor and Acrylic One-Day Workshop

Saturday, February 23
Beginning Acrylic Painting One-Day Workshop
Saturday, March 2
Colored Pencil One-Day Workshop

Saturday, March 16
Travel Sketching One-Day Workshop

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