On entering visitors will be struck by a self-portrait made with loose brushstrokes that shows her poised and exuding confidence – she was hugely talented and in this painting it’s as if she knows it.
Impressionism was about capturing the moment and when we see two women in the park it’s as if we’re witnessing it ourselves and a reclining woman on a sofa looks as relaxed and joyous as the brushstrokes that created her. Children pretending to fish a goldfish out of a bowl are captured in the carefree frivolity we associate with childhood and the vibrant blues of a girl on a divan still feel fresh over a century after they were painted.
Her work is expanded upon by featuring works of the artists she drew inspiration from including British painters such as Gainsborough, Reynolds and Romney. Morisot definitely holds her own against these men and her works feel even more dynamic and expressive when hung alongside more traditional portraits – especially a rather stilted society scene by James Tissot, Tissot may have been her contemporary but she makes his work feel like it was painted a century before hers.
Even her loose sketches are highly evocative including a simple one of her angelic ten year old daughter in pastel on brown paper. Family features prominently and, despite him not being the most patient of sitters, she paints her husband and fellow Impressionist Eugene Manet gazing out of a window over some blooming flowers. Though the saddest moment is saved for the last work in the show as after Manet died she painted their daughter Julie in a black mourning dress looking lost and distant. It’s a deeply sad painting but shows us how great Morisot was at capturing the emotional charge of a moment.
London gallery goers may be spoiled for Impressionist exhibitions, with seemingly one popping up every couple of years. While most of these shows offer great works they very rarely offer us anything fresh and new. Here’s a show that does both and gives Morisot the recognition she thoroughly deserves.
Second image: Berthe Morisot, Resting. Private Collection
Third image: Berthe Morisot, Julie Manet with her Greyhound Laerte. © Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris.
|Berthe Morisot: Shaping Impressionism, Dulwich Picture Gallery, review
|Dulwich Picture Gallery, Gallery Road, London, SE21 7AD | MAP
|North Dulwich (overground)
31 Mar 23 – 10 Sep 23, 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
|Click here for more information and to book