Berthe Morisot | Fine Arts Reviews

Recommended for readers with a basic knowledge of the subject but wish to know more; lovely color images and details of the artworks comprise this excellent overview of an important impressionist artist

Patry, Sylvie. Berthe Morisot, Woman Impressionist. Rizzoli. Jun. 2018. 240p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780847861316. $55. FINE ARTS
This volume accompanies an exhibition that travels to the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia and the Dallas Museum of Art. Written and curated by French and American art historians, its essays reexamine the life and works of French impressionist Berthe Morisot (1841–95), one of only three women artists (including Mary Cassatt and Marie Bracquemond) included in impressionist exhibitions. Among the three, Morisot’s work was highlighted the most, showing in seven of the eight exhibitions. Through the portrayal of the human figure, she painted many of the themes explored by impressionism that defined contemporary life in 19th-century France. Her art also reflected the different roles of work and leisure in the lives of females, focusing primarily on depictions of girls and women. Also highlighted is Morisot’s interest in the art of the French rococo and how aspects of this style were incorporated into her color palette, formal style, and subject matter.
VERDICT With scholarly but accessible text, a detailed chronology of the artist’s life, and beautiful color images, this book is recommended for readers who have a basic knowledge of the subject but want to know more about French impressionism or women artists.—Sandra Rothenberg, Framingham State Univ. Lib., MA

Rey, Jean-Dominique. Berthe Morisot. Flammarion. Apr. 2018. 224p. illus. bibliog. ISBN 9782080203458. $29.95. FINE ARTS
Originally published in 1982 and updated in 2010, this work’s latest edition, with a foreword by curator Sylvie Patry examines the formal qualities of impressionist Berthe Morisot’s use of color, form, style, and brushstrokes. Art historian and curator Rey (Monet: Water Lilies) praises Morisot’s work but at the same time uses reductive and feminizing language to describe its qualities. Patry’s introduction counters this description, stating that Morisot thought of herself as an artist, not a woman artist, and wanted to be judged in this way alongside her male colleagues such as Monet, Degas, and Renoir. Rey includes quotes from Morisot’s unpublished notebooks and a valuable section with correspondences from noted writers of the day, such as Stéphane Mallarmé and Émile Zola, with commentary by Rey.
VERDICT Lovely color images and details of the artworks comprise this excellent overview of an important impressionist artist. Readers should take note that this is the same book as the 2010 edition with the same content, likely republished to coincide with the traveling 2018 Berthe Morisot exhibition.—Sandra Rothenberg, Framingham State Univ. Lib., MA

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