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Berthe Morisot et sa fille, Julie Manet

Berthe Morisot et sa fille, Julie Manet
signed 'Renoir.' (lower right)
oil on canvas
32 x 25 3⁄4 in. (81.3 x 65.5 cm.)
Painted in 1894
Berthe Morisot, Paris (gift from the artist).
Julie Manet, Paris (by descent from the above, then by descent); sale, Christie's, New York, 8 May 2000, lot 27.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
F. Jourdain, "L'art au jour le jour: L'exposition de M. Renoir" in La Patrie, 23 June 1896, p. 2.
G. Rivière, Renoir et ses amis, Paris, 1921, p. 200.
A. André, Renoir, 1928, p. 57 (illustrated; dated 1896).
C. Terrasse, Cinquante portraits de Renoir, Paris, 1941 (illustrated, pl. 33).
M. Florisoone, Renoir, London, 1942, p. 166, no. 59 (illustrated).
M. Drucker, Renoir, Paris, 1944, p. 157, no. 112 (illustrated).
G.G. Görlich, ed., Renoir, Milan, 1945 (illustrated, pl. 13).
G. Reyer, "Le dechirant amour de Berthe Morisot" in Paris Match, 15 April 1961, no. 627 (illustrated in color in situ in the salon of the rue de Villejust, p. 88).
J. Renoir, Renoir, My Father, London, 1962, p. 97 (illustrated; dated 1896).
J. Manet, "A French Lady's Engaging Recollections: The Great Ones All Painted Us, Renoir, Degas, Manet and Mother" in Life, 10 May 1963 (illustrated in color).
B.E. White, Renoir: His Life, Art and Letters, New York, 1984, p. 200 (illustrated, p. 203).
E. Fezzi, Tout l'oeuvre peint de Renoir, période impressionniste 1869-1883, Paris, 1985, no. 636 (illustrated).
D. Montalant, "Une longue amitié: Berthe Morisot et Pierre-Auguste Renoir" in L'Oeil, May 1985, p. 42 (illustrated in color, p. 43).
D. Rouart, Berthe Morisot: The Correspondence with her Family and her Friends, Manet, Puvis de Chavannes, Degas, Monet, Renoir, and Mallarmé, Exeter, 1987, pp. 205 and 235.
R. de Boland Roberts and J. Roberts, eds., Growing up with the Impressionists: The Diary of Julie Manet, London, 1987, p. 2 (illustrated in color; illustrated in color again on the cover).
C. Stuckey, W. Scott and S. Lindsay, Berthe Morisot, Impressionist, exh. cat., National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1987, p. 170 (illustrated).
B. Denvir, The Chronicle of Impressionism: A Timeline History of Impressionist Art, London, 1993, p. 199 (illustrated).
A. Distel, Renoir, Paris, 1993, p. 99 (illustrated in color).
D. Rouart, Renoir, Geneva, 1993, p. 76.
V. Duponchelle and B. de Rochebouet, "Julie et Berthe au salon" in Le Figaro, 5 May 2000 (illustrated).
M. Shennan, Berthe Morisot: The First Lady of Impressionism, Stroud, 2000, p. 275 (illustrated in color, p. 167).
G.-P. and M. Dauberville, Renoir: Catalogue raisonné des tableaux, pastels, dessins et aquarelles, Paris, 2009, vol. II, p. 194, no. 997 (illustrated).
A. Distel, Renoir, New York, 2010, p. 296, no. 269 (illustrated in color).
B.E. White, Renoir: An Intimate Biography, London, 2017, p. 180 (illustrated).
C. Kang, M. Mathieu, N.R. Myers, S. Patry and B. Scott, Berthe Morisot: Woman Impressionist, exh. cat., Musée national des Beaux-Arts du Québec, 2018, p. 213 (illustrated in color, fig. 17).
M. Mathieu, ed., Julie Manet: An Impressionist Heritage, exh. cat., Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris, 2021, p. 217 (illustrated in color).
Paris, Galerie Durand-Ruel et Cie., Renoir, May-June 1896, no. 34.
Paris, Galerie Charpentier, Portraits français, 1945, no. 91bis.
Paris, Galerie Durand-Ruel et Cie., Quelques portraits d'artistes, June 1947, no. 17 (illustrated).
New York, Wildenstein & Co. Inc., Renoir, A Loan Exhibition for the Benefit of the New York Infirmary, March-April 1950, p. 44, no. 67 (illustrated, p. 31).
Paris, Galerie Paul Pétridès, Hommage à Renoir, June-July 1950, p. 15, no. 3.
The Art Gallery of Toronto; The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts; New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art; The Toledo Museum of Art; Washington, D.C., The Phillips Collection; San Francisco, California Palace of the Legion of Honor and Oregon, Portland Art Museum, Berthe Morisot and her Circle, Paintings from the Rouart Collection, September 1952-October 1954, no. 30 (illustrated).
Paris, Musée Jacquemart André, Berthe Morisot, spring 1961, no. 187.
Vevey, Musée Jenisch, Berthe Morisot, June-September 1961, p. 15, no. 154.
Marseille, Musée Cantini, Renoir: Peintre et sculpteur, June-September 1963, no. 102.
Ottawa, National Gallery of Canada; The Art Institute of Chicago and Fort Worth, The Kimbell Art Museum, Renoir's Portraits: Impressions of an Age, June 1997-April 1998, pp. 220-223, no. 53 (illustrated in color, p. 221; detail illustrated in color, p. 222).
Sakura, Kawamura Memorial Museum of Art; Sendai, The Miyagi Museum of Art and Sapporo, Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art, Renoir: Modern Eyes, April-August 1999, p. 138, no. 56 (illustrated in color, p. 139).
Further details
This work will be included in the forthcoming Pierre-Auguste Renoir digital catalogue raisonné, currently being prepared under the sponsorship of the Wildenstein Plattner Institute, Inc.

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Emily Kaplan
Emily Kaplan Senior Vice President, Senior Specialist, Co-Head of 20th Century Evening Sale

Lot Essay

Berthe Morisot et sa fille, Julie Manet is a rare and intimate depiction of Berthe Morisot, painted in 1894, a year before her death, with her beloved daughter. It stands as a visual testament of the deep friendship between Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Morisot, one that he would refer to as “one of the most solid of my life” (quoted in C. Bailey, ed., exh. cat, op. cit., 1997, p. 220). This monumental double portrait was gifted by Renoir to Morisot, before it passed to her daughter and it has remained in the family’s collection for the entirety of the twentieth century.
An exhibitor in seven of the eight Impressionist exhibitions, Morisot was a key artist within the Impressionist group. While she had met Renoir frequently throughout these years, it was not until 1886, when Morisot began making trips to his studio, that their friendship began to fully develop. Over time, the artists and their families grew ever closer, often meeting and on occasion holidaying together. Morisot was a key support to Renoir after the death of his close friend Gustave Caillebotte in 1894, the same year that the present portrait was painted. Their combined, close-knit circle of friends encompassed some of the most important figures of Impressionism, including Stéphane Mallarmé, fellow painters Mary Cassatt, Alfred Sisley, Claude Monet, and Edouard Manet. Morisot’s famous Thursday soirées—first held at the family home in the rue de Villejust, and, after her husband, Eugène Manet’s death in 1892, in their new home on the rue Weber—became a frequent gathering spot for the rapidly growing “Impressionist family.” Renoir’s son, Jean, later described how his father enjoyed these evenings: “In Berthe Morisot’s day, the Manet circle had been one of the most authentic centers of civilized Parisian life... [Renoir] loved spending an hour or two at the house in Rue de Villejust. It was not the intellectuals one met at Berthe Morisot’s, but simply good company… Morisot acted like a special kind of magnet on people, attracting only the genuine. She had a gift for smoothing out the rough edges. Even Degas became more civil with her. The little Manet girls, as they were called, carried on the family tradition. And when Rouart and Valéry married into the family, it was further enriched” (op. cit., 1962, p. 269).
Morisot’s only child, Julie, was born in 1878. Immortalized in paintings by Morisot, Manet and Renoir, she became the daughter of the Impressionist community and an important onlooker of this revolutionary epoch, as well as a careful guardian of its legacy. Many years later, Julie was described as “the last surviving witness of a particularly auspicious period in the history of art; [who] managed to keep alive the spirit of a whole group of artists” (quoted in Berthe Morisot: Woman Impressionist, exh. cat., The Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia, 2018, p. 180).
Renoir had first painted Julie in 1887, when she was nine-years-old (Dauberville, no. 1232; Musée d’Orsay, Paris). In 1894, he began painting her again, at the family’s home on the rue Weber. During one of the sittings, Renoir asked Morisot to join her daughter in posing for him. Renoir wrote to Morisot in April of this year, “If it is not too unpleasant for you, I would like, instead of doing Julie alone, to do her with you. But here is the drawback; it is that if I go to your home, there will always be something to prevent me, but if you were willing to give me two hours, which means two mornings or afternoons a week, I think I’d be able to do the portrait in six sittings at most. Tell me, yes or no” (quoted in B.E. White, Renoir: His Life, Art and Letters, New York, 1984, p. 200). Morisot agreed and she and Julie posed at Renoir’s studio at 7 rue Tourlaque, first for a pastel preparatory study, which was later gifted to the Musée du Petit Palais, Paris (Dauberville, no. 1421), and then for the present work. Julie later recalled these sittings, describing how the three of them would finish and then return to Renoir’s home where his wife, Aline, would have prepared lunch for them.
Renoir’s desire to paint Morisot at this time may have been inspired by the reappearance of two portraits of her by Manet—Le Repos (Rhode Island School of Design, Providence) and Berthe Morisot au bouquet des violettes of 1872 (Musée d’Orsay, Paris). These works were included in the sale of Theodore Duret’s collection in March 1894. Morisot and Julie cut short a visit to Brussels in order to return to Paris and attend the auction. While she was unable to buy Le Repos, she was successful in acquiring Berthe Morisot au bouquet des violettes (That night, Morisot dined together with Renoir, Mallarmé and Edgar Degas at her home—most likely these paintings were a central topic of conversation. These depictions of the young Morisot clearly resonated with Renoir, perhaps encouraging him to memorialize Manet’s favorite model and his own dear friend in visual form himself.
Adorned in a black dress, her mourning clothes since the death of her husband two years earlier, Morisot appears in this work as a stately matriarch of Impressionism. Her solemn gaze contrasts with the youthful, wide eyed look of Julie, whose dark hair hangs in loose waves beneath an extravagant white hat. The double portrait is as much a personal diary of the artist and his close relationship with the sitters, as it is a portrait of mother and child. When compared with contemporary photographs, both Morisot and Julie appear close to life. Julie appears in the same hat in a photograph taken circa 1894, and likewise, is pictured wearing a similar dress in another one, posing next to her beloved greyhound dog, Laërte. Renoir has not only captured their appearances with a sharp verisimilitude, but has rendered their expressions and stances with a nuanced gaze, a reflection both of his deft and famed ability as a portraitist, but also of his friendship with his two sitters.
The close, overlapping poses of Morisot and Julie in the present work was rare within Renoir’s oeuvre. However, Morisot’s Les enfants de Gabriel Thomas (Musée d’Orsay, Paris), painted the same year as the present work, features two children in similar positions. Similarly, an earlier, unfinished work of 1887, Berthe Morisot et sa fille devant la fenêtre (Private collection), likewise features the artist seated, with her child standing just behind her. By depicting mother and daughter in this way, Renoir not only evoked his sitters’ close bond, but clearly relished in the visual contrasts between the pair. Indeed, the composition is based upon these juxtapositions, both in terms of their age—Julie’s rosy cheeks and flowing locks contrast with Morisot’s silver-gray hair that is swept up in a neat chignon—as well as the tones he used to depict them. The sumptuous black tones of Morisot’s dress are contrasted with the luminous white collar and elaborate hat worn by the youthful Julie.
Tragedy struck the Manet-Morisot family not long after Renoir finished this portrait. In January 1895, Julie took ill, followed by her mother. Julie recovered, but Morisot did not. She died in March of this year. As requested in Morisot’s will, Renoir became Julie’s unofficial guardian, a true testament of their friendship. Julie remembers Renoir’s reaction; “he was in the midst of painting alongside Cézanne when he learned of Mother's death, he closed his paint box and took the train—I have never forgotten the way he came into my room on the rue Weber and took me in his arms—I can still see his white flowing necktie with red polka dots” (quoted in ibid., p. 201).
Julie lived with her two orphaned cousins, the daughters of Morisot’s sister, Yves, Jeanne and Paule Gobillard, and all three of them spent July and August 1895 at Renoir’s summer home in Brittany and took painting lessons from the artist. In a diary entry of 4 October, only a few months after her mother’s death, Julie speaks of the Renoir family’s kindness. She wrote, “We are leaving the Renoirs, M. Renoir who has been so kind and charming all summer; the more one sees of him, the more one finds him an artist, fine and of an extraordinary intelligence, but on top of that with a sincere simplicity” (ibid., p. 201). Renoir and his wife Aline remained close to Julie for the rest of their lives, treating her as if she was his own daughter. In March 1896, the seventeen-year old Julie organized an exhibition of over three hundred of her mother’s works at Paul Durand-Ruel’s Paris gallery, a show which received much critical acclaim. Julie Manet married the painter Ernest Rouart on 29 May 1900 “a match engineered by Degas” (exh. cat., op. cit., 1997, p. 223). Just as Julie followed her mother in her own ambition to become a painter, so this painting, which remained in the Rouart family until 2000, represents part of the family’s important legacy.

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