Berthe Morisot (1841-1895)
Berthe Morisot (1841-1895)

Nu de dos

Berthe Morisot (1841-1895)
Nu de dos
oil on canvas
21¾ x 18 1/8 in. (55.3 x 46.2 cm.)
Painted in 1885
Galerie Durand-Ruel, Paris.
Claude Monet, Paris, by whom acquired from the above in 1896.
Julie Manet, Paris, by whom acquired from the above.
Julien Rouart, Paris (son of Julie Manet and Ernest Rouart), and thence by descent to the present owner.
A. Fourreau, Berthe Morisot, London, 1925, pl. 19 (illustrated; titled 'La toilette' and dated '1884').
F. Mathey, Six femmes peintres, Paris, 1951, no. 19, p. 7 (illustrated).
M.-L. Bataille & G. Wildenstein, Berthe Morisot, catalogue des peintures, pastels et aquarelles, Paris, 1961, no. 169, p. 34 (illustrated fig. 179).
A. Clairet, D. Montalant & Y. Rouart, Berthe Morisot 1841-1895, catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre peint, Montolivet, 1997, no. 172, p. 198 (illustrated).
Exh. cat., Berthe Morisot, Fondation Pierre Gianadda, Martigny, 2009, p. 316 (illustrated fig. 1).
Paris, Galerie Durand-Ruel, Berthe Morisot (Madame Eugène Manet) Exposition de son oeuvre, March 1896, no. 371 (titled 'Sortant du lit').
Paris, Salon d'Automne, 1907, no. 26.
Paris, Galerie Marcel Bernheim, Exposition rétrospective Berthe Morisot, 1922, no. 10.
Paris, Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, Exposition d'oeuvres de Berthe Morisot, May 1929, no. 46.
London, The Leicester Galleries, Berthe Morisot Exhibition, March - April 1930, no. 39 (titled 'Nu').
New York, Knoedler Galleries, Berthe Morisot (Madame Eugène Manet) 1841-1895, May - June 1936, no. 23.
Paris, Musée de l'Orangerie, Berthe Morisot (1841-1895), 1941, no. 61.
Copenhagen, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Berthe Morisot, August - September 1949, no. 33.
London, Art Council of Great Britain, Berthe Morisot, an Exhibition of Paintings & Drawings, 1950, no. 36.
Toronto, The Art Gallery of Toronto, Berthe Morisot and her Circle. Paintings from the Rouart Collection, Paris, September 1952, no. 10 (illustrated; titled 'Woman dressing'); this exhibition later travelled to Montreal, Museum of Fine Art; New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art; Toledo, The Toledo Museum of Art; Washington, The Phillips Collection; San Francisco, California Palace of the Legion of Honor and Portland, Portland Art Museum.
Dieppe, Musée de Dieppe, Exposition Berthe Morisot, July - September 1957, no. 34.
Albi, Musée Toulouse-Lautrec, Exposition Berthe Morisot (1841-1895), peintures, aquarelles, dessins, July - September 1958, no. 40, p. 31 (illustrated pl. XVIII; titled 'Nu vu de dos').
Paris, Musée Jacquemart-André, Berthe Morisot, 1961, no. 50.
Vevey, Musée Jenisch, Berthe Morisot, June - September 1961, no. 40.
Paris, Musée Marmottan Monet, Berthe Morisot 1841-1895, March - July 2012, no. 54, p. 160 (illustrated p. 161).

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Antoine Lebouteiller
Antoine Lebouteiller

Lot Essay

Nu de dos is an important and historic painting by Berthe Morisot, a rare example of an oil nude which has featured in many of the most important exhibitions dedicated to the artist including the posthumous one organised by many of the titans of Impressionism in 1896 at the Galerie Durand-Ruel. This picture also has incredible provenance, having been owned first by Claude Monet and then been purchased by Morisot's own daughter, Julie Manet; it has subsequently remained in the family's hands.

Nu de dos is usually accorded a date of 1885, and therefore dates from the beginning of Morisot's interest in the female nude as subject matter (Charles Stuckey dated the picture to 1886-87). Morisot shared this interest with many of the Impressionists, not least Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Indeed, when the two artists realised that they were focussing on such subjects, Morisot visited his studio, in January 1886, seeing the celebrated Grandes baigneuses upon which he was working.

For Morisot, part of the attraction of the female nude as subject matter was due to her interest in harmonies such as those in the paintings of François Boucher. This is clear in Nu de dos in the visual assonance between the pink walls and the flesh tones of the model. Stuckey identified this sitter as Carmine Gaudin, a professional model who would also pose, albeit not nude, for Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (see C.F. Stuckey & W.P. Scott, Berthe Morisot: Impressionist, London, 1987, p. 126). Morisot's inexperience with nude subjects and also her own natural modesty may have resulted in the view from the back shown here. The picture was painted in the bathroom at her home on the rue de Villejuste in Paris, where she had moved two years earlier. This would doubtless afford both artist and sitter alike some privacy.

Morisot clearly appreciated Nu de dos, as she revisited the composition in a drypoint. In addition, a charcoal study of the subject exists, as does a related but different pastel, showing a woman on a chair with long hair and without her left arm raised in the same way; that work also featured the faint outline of another figure.

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