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Monet and Morisot ImpModEvening Lot 5 and Lot7
Berthe Morisot (1841-1895)
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THE PERSONAL COLLECTION OF BARBARA LAMBRECHT, SOLD TO BENEFIT THE RUBENS PRIZE COLLECTION IN THE MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART IN SIEGENChristie’s is honoured to offer the following selection of works from the personal collection of the esteemed philanthropist and patron of the arts, Barbara Lambrecht. Assembled over the course of nearly four decades, Ms Lambrecht’s collection features works by a diverse range of artists, from early compositions by the great painters of Impressionism, to the refined techniques of the Pointillists, and the free, expressionist colours of the Fauves. In this way, the collection offers an intriguing insight into one of the most dynamic and exciting periods of the European artistic avant-garde. Ms Lambrecht’s collecting journey began in the 1970s, when an early interest in Impressionism encouraged her to purchase paintings by Eugène Boudin, Raoul Dufy and Berthe Morisot. From here, her treasured collection has grown and evolved to encompass works by some of the most influential artists of the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries, including Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso and Paul Klee. This highly personal collection, shaped by Ms Lambrecht’s discerning vision and keen knowledge of art history, has filled the walls of the collector’s home for the past forty years. Considered together, the works reveal a series of intriguing connections to one another, their similarities and differences causing a dynamic dialogue to develop between each of the individual works in the collection. This is evident, for example, when Dufy’s portrayal of the northern coast of France is considered alongside Boudin’s painting of the same subject, or the contrasting painterly techniques of Monet’s loose, spontaneous compositions are observed beside Kees van Dongen’s highly saturated, impastoed areas of colour. One of the most striking features of the collection is the way in which the collection focuses on the pivotal periods in each artist’s career, often highlighting on a moment of transition as they begin to explore new, ground breaking techniques, subject matter or styles. Ms Lambrecht’s dedication to collecting has been paralleled by a prodigious journey in cultural philanthropy and patronage, as her passion for the arts has driven her to support a number of institutions in her native Siegen. Through her generous support, these bodies have become leaders in their respective fields, from the Philharmonic Orchestra Südwestfalen, to the city’s Apollo Theatre. Amongst her most remarkable and enduring charitable projects is her commitment to the Museum of Contemporary Art, Siegen, and her promotion of the Peter Paul Rubens Prize. Founded in 1955, the same year as the documenta in Kassel, this highly acclaimed international award is presented every five years to a contemporary artist living in Europe, to honour his or her lifetime achievements in art. Presented in remembrance of Peter Paul Rubens, who was born in Siegen, previous recipients include Giorgio Morandi, Francis Bacon, Antoni Tápies, Cy Twombly, Sigmar Polke, Lucian Freud, Maria Lassnig and Bridget Riley. To support the award, Ms Lambrecht founded the Rubens Prize Collection, acquiring comprehensive and exemplary groups of important paintings, sculptures and graphic pieces by each of the award’s former laureates, and then placing them on permanent loan to the Museum. Conceptually, the collection has been carefully curated so as to include works from each artist’s various creative phases, and continues to grow as it gathers examples from each new recipient of the prize. Creating an impressive survey of twentieth- and early twenty-first-century European art, from the quiet still-lifes of Morandi, and Riley’s iconic explorations of line and colour, to Bacon's emotionally charged figurative paintings and Maria Lassnig’s self-exploration of the human body, the Rubens Prize Collection offers visitors to the Museum of Contemporary Art in Siegen an in-depth look into the work of the acclaimed artists honoured by the city. With the sale of this outstanding group of impressionist and early modernist works, Ms Lambrecht plans to ensure the continued growth and evolution of the Rubens Prize Collection, and to secure its future for the enjoyment of subsequent generations in Siegen and throughout Europe.
Berthe Morisot (1841-1895)

Femme et enfant au balcon

Details
Berthe Morisot (1841-1895)
Femme et enfant au balcon
signed 'B Morisot' (lower right)
oil on canvas
24 x 19 3/4 in. (61 x 50 cm.)
Painted in 1872
Provenance
Louise Gillou, Paris.
Leicester Galleries, London, by 1928.
Mr & Mrs Henry Ittelson Jr, New York, by 1961.
The Lefevre Gallery, London.
Alex Maguy, Paris.
Schröder und Leisewitz, Bremen.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1976.
Literature
The Burlington Magazine, vol. 53, no. 309, December 1928 (illustrated pl. 23; titled 'The Balcony').
M. Angoulvent, Berthe Morisot, Paris, 1933, no. 30, p. 119 (titled ‘Sur la terrasse’).
T.W. Earp, French Painting, London, 1945 (illustrated pl. 26; titled ‘Le Champ de Mars’).
D. Rouart, Berthe Morisot, Paris, 1954 (illustrated pl. 14; titled 'Au balcon').
J. Rewald, The History of Impressionism, New York, 1961, p. 293 (illustrated; titled 'On the Balcony, Paris').
M.L. Bataille & G. Wildenstein, Berthe Morisot: Catalogue des peintures, pastels et aquarelles, Paris, 1961, no. 24, p. 25 (illustrated pl. 7).
P. Huisman, Berthe Morisot, Lausanne, 1962, p. 11 (illustrated).
P. Courthion, Autour de l'Impressionnisme, Paris, 1964, p. 35 (illustrated).
C. Virch, 'The Annual Summer Loan Exhibition', in Met Museum of Art Bulletin, vol. 26, no. 1, summer 1967, p. 34 (illustrated; titled ‘The Balcony’).
P. Courthion, Impressionism, New York, 1969, p. 159 (illustrated; titled 'The Balcony').
W.P. Scott, 'Berthe Morisot: Painting from a Private Place', in American Artist, vol. 41, no. 424, November 1977, p. 68 (illustrated).
J.D. Rey, Berthe Morisot, Naefels, 1982 (the watercolour version from the Art Institute of Chicago illustrated; titled ‘On the Balcony’).
K. Adler & T. Garb, The Correspondence of Berthe Morisot, London, 1986, p. 82 (likely mentioned in Morisot’s letter to her sister Edma of August 1871).
K. Adler & T. Garb, Berthe Morisot, London, 1987, p. 28 (the watercolour version from the Art Institute of Chicago illustrated pl. 18).
K. Adler, ‘The Spaces of Everyday Life: Berthe Morisot and Passy’, in T.J. Edelstein, Perspectives on Morisot, New York, 1990, no. 6, pp. 39, 107-108 & 110 (illustrated pl. 6 and again on the cover; dated ‘circa 1871-1872’ and titled ‘On the Balcony’).
A. Higonnet, Berthe Morisot's Images of Women, Cambridge, Massachusetts & London, 1992, p. 298 (the watercolour version from the Art Institute of Chicago illustrated pl. II).
B.E. White, Impressionists Side by Side, New York, 1996, p. 160 (illustrated; titled 'On the Balcony').
A. Clairet, D. Montalant & Y. Rouart, Berthe Morisot, 1841-1895: Catalogue Raisonné de l'oeuvre peint, Montolivet, 1997, no. 24, p. 124 (illustrated).
J.D. Rey, Berthe Morisot, Paris, 2010, p. 62 (illustrated; titled ‘Dame et enfant sur la terrasse ou Femme et enfant au balcon’).
Exh. cat., L'impressionnisme et la mode, Paris, 2012, p. 300.
Exhibited
Paris, Galerie Charpentier, L'Enfance, June 1949, no. 152 (illustrated; titled 'Sur la colline de Chaillot').
New York, M. Knoedler & Co., From the Private Collections of New York, Impressionist Treasures, January 1966, no. 21, p. 29 (illustrated).
Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art, Berthe Morisot: Impressionist, September - November 1987, no. 13, pp. 44-45 & 217 (illustrated pl. 13, p. 46; titled ‘On the Balcony’); this exhibition later travelled to Fort Worth, Kimbell Art Museum, December 1987 - February 1988; and South Hadley, Mount Holyoke College Art Museum, March - May 1988.
Paris, Musée Marmottan, Les femmes impressionnistes: Mary Cassatt, Eva Gonzalès, Berthe Morisot, October - December 1993, no. 60, p. 149 (illustrated).
Paris, Musée d'Orsay, Manet, Monet and the Gare Saint-Lazare, February - March 1998, no. 56, pp. 41 & 201 (illustrated fig. 33); this exhibition later travelled to Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art, June - September 1998.
Martigny, Fondation Pierre Gianadda, Berthe Morisot, June - November 2002, no. 11, p. 122 (illustrated p. 123; dated ‘1871-1872’ and titled ‘Dame et enfant sur la terrasse des Morisot, rue Franklin ou Femme et enfant au balcon’).
Copenhagen, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Women in Impressionism: From Mythical Feminine to Modern Woman, October 2006 - January 2007, no. 67, p. 163 (illustrated fig. 126, p. 162; dated '1871-72').
New York, Metropolitan Museum, Impressionism, Fashion and Modernity, February - May 2013, no. 77, pp. 159 & 287 (illustrated); this exhibition later travelled to Chicago, Art Institute, June - September 2013.
Hamburg, Kunsthalle, Manet - Sehen: Der Blick der Moderne, May - September 2016, no. 22, p. 142 (illustrated; dated '1871-1872').

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Lot Essay

Femme et enfant au balcon is one of Berthe Morisot’s key works, representing both a beginning and an end, a synthesis and a new departure.’
(Jean Dominique Rey, Berthe Morisot, Bergamo, 1982, p. 21)

One of the most acclaimed and renowned works of Berthe Morisot’s career, Femme et enfant au balcon encapsulates in a single image many of the dominant themes and stylistic characteristics that define the artist’s distinct form of Impressionism. Painted in 1872, from the artist’s home on the rue Franklin in Passy, an affluent suburb of Paris, in this work a fashionably dressed woman and a child stand on a balcony overlooking a panoramic vista of the city before them: the green park of the Trocadéro, the river Seine and the wide Champ de Mars spread before the skyline of the city, which is punctuated by the golden dome of the Hôtel des Invalides glowing in the distance. Exemplifying the artist’s nascent impressionist style – she was a founding member of the impressionist group and exhibited with them in all but one of the group exhibitions between 1874 and 1886 – Femme et enfant au balcon is composed with a combination of spontaneous, softly feathered brushwork and areas of fine, exquisite detail. Against the lightly rendered background, the just visible red flowers on the upper right of the composition are depicted with delicate precision, as is the blue ribbon in the child’s auburn hair and the diaphanous black silk ruffles of the woman’s elegant dress. In many ways a breakthrough work of the artist’s early career, Morisot held Femme et enfant au balcon in such high regard that she executed a small copy of it in watercolour, a work that now resides in the Art Institute of Chicago. This was a particularly rare practice for Morisot who was dedicated to the spontaneous depiction of the world around her. Originally in the collection of the pioneering collector, Louise Gillou, the painting was subsequently in the distinguished Impressionist collection of Mr and Mrs Henry Ittleson, New York. While Femme et enfant au balcon has been included in some of the most important retrospectives of Morisot’s work, it has never before been seen at auction and has remained in the same private collection for the last forty years.

Femme et enfant au balcon dates from a critical turning point in Morisot’s early career. Having been trained at home alongside her sister Edma, her professional career as an artist had begun in 1864, when she had exhibited at the Salon for the first time. Gradually Morisot and Edma became part of the avant-garde art world of Paris, socialising with Manet, Degas, Fantin-Latour and Puvis de Chavannes at various evening soirées held at their home, as well as at the Manets’ and Alfred Stevens’. After her sister’s marriage in 1869, Morisot remained more committed than ever to pursuing a career as an artist. The Franco-Prussian war and subsequent Siege of Paris put her artistic endeavours on temporary hold. Defiantly choosing to remain in Paris, Morisot endured the terrible privations of war until 1871, when she left her family home in Passy and fled to a western suburb of the besieged city. Her health steadily improving, Morisot spent the summer in Cherbourg on the north coast of France with her sister. While there, her painting began to flourish. With a surge of creativity, her artistic style underwent a significant change, as her brushstrokes became looser and her compositions flooded with light and delicate colour; as impressionist scholars Charles F. Stuckey and William P. Scott have stated, ‘Morisot emerged from the interruption of her career as a fully mature artist’ (C. F. Stuckey & W. P. Scott, Berthe Morisot, Impressionist, London, 1987, p. 39).

It was at this time that Morisot began working on Femme et enfant au balcon, a work that has come to define her career. The female model in the painting is identified in different sources both as Edma Pontillon or Morisot’s other sister, Yves Gobillard. The young girl is Yves’ daughter, Paule Gobillard, who was known as Bichette. In a letter that Morisot wrote to Edma in August 1871, shortly after she had returned from the coast to the capital, she wrote, ‘I am doing Yves with Bichette. I am having great difficulty with them. The work is losing all its freshness. Moreover as a composition it resembles a Manet. I realise this and am annoyed’ (Morisot, August 1871, in Stuckey & Scott, ibid., p. 41). While Morisot was working on two other works at this time – Vue de Paris des Hauteurs du Trocadéro (1872, Santa Barbara Museum of Art), and a series of variations on the motif of a woman and child sitting in a garden – both of which find equivalents in the work of Manet, it is most likely that her mention of ‘Yves with Bichette’ refers to Femme et enfant au balcon.

By the time she painted Femme et enfant au balcon, Morisot had grown extremely close to Manet. They had first met in the Louvre in 1867, introduced to each other by fellow artist, Henri Fantin-Latour. Intrigued by her intense gaze and captivated by her dark, striking beauty, Manet asked her to pose for him, using her as a model for one of the figures in Le Balcon of 1868-9 (Musée d’Orsay, Paris), the first of many works in which she would feature. This meeting marked not only the beginning of their friendship – they also became family in 1874, when she married his brother, Eugène – but was also the start of an important artistic exchange that would continue until Manet’s death in 1883. Manet played a vital role in Morisot’s early career, providing crucial encouragement in moments of uncertainty as she forged an independent identity as an artist. Both artists respected and admired each other’s work greatly, influencing and inspiring one another both stylistically and thematically at different points of their careers. At this time in Morisot’s career in particular, Manet had begun to adopt certain aspects of her technique, using looser brushstrokes and a lighter colour palette, as well as experimenting with the possibilities of working en plein air.

It could have been Manet’s Le Balcon that Morisot was referring to in her aforementioned letter. Depicting a group of figures posed upon a balcony, this painting caused great consternation when it was exhibited in the Salon of 1869 due to Manet’s bold colour palette and unusual composition. Similarly set upon a balcony, in Femme et enfant au balcon Morisot instead situates the viewer alongside the figures as they look outwards from the railings onto the vista beyond. If Morisot was originally concerned that her composition was too similar to Manet’s work, her final painting is decidedly unique. Indeed, a testament to this is the fact that, the following year, Manet appeared to have drawn upon Femme et enfant au balcon for a work entitled Le Chemin de Fer (National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.), which he finished in 1873. Although vastly different in its conception, in this painting Manet took the same protagonists of Morisot’s balcony scene and placed them against railings, the young child similarly facing outwards, gazing at an unseen view.

The balcony was a novel feature of Second Empire Paris and was a motif that became frequently used by contemporary artists. Due to Haussmannisation, which had seen Paris completely renovated and rebuilt, the capital had been turned into a city of spectacle. Many of the newly built façades of houses that lined widened boulevards and regularised streets featured balconies. These quickly became ambiguous social spaces; both part of the private, domestic setting of the home, as well as belonging to the public realm of the city, a place to regard the outside world yet remain safely inside. For the Impressionists, this architectural feature offered a new aerial viewpoint: a modern outlook of the rapidly modernising city. Artists such as Monet and Pissarro painted scenes of Paris from this elevated vantage point, while Caillebotte, Manet and Morisot turned their eye to the figures that occupied it.

In Femme et enfant au balcon, Morisot has used the balcony as a compositional device to split the pictorial space into two distinct halves, clearly demarcating the private, domestic sphere that the figures occupy, and the sprawling, unbounded public domain of the city beyond. Rendered with soft lines that appear almost transparent in some places, the railings of the balcony serve as a literal barrier between these two spatial zones, creating a physical divide between the woman and child and their wider environment. It has been suggested that the division and resultant isolation seen in Femme et enfant au balcon was a reflection of Morisot’s own experience as a woman. For an affluent, haute-bourgeoisie woman of 19th Century Paris, social conventions prohibited many of the freedoms afforded to men. Unable to roam the new spaces of the modern city unchaperoned, the home was the principal domain for a woman of Morisot’s background. As a result, Morisot primarily depicted the world around her: her family, her home and gardens in Passy, and the rituals and routines of female life. In a number of her works, this sense of limitation and dislocation can, it could be argued, be sensed. Painted at the same time as the present work, Vue de Paris hauteurs du Trocadéro depicts two fashionably attired female figures and a young girl overlooking the city from the Trocadéro gardens. Their separation from the city itself is once more emphasised by the railings that cut straight across the sweeping vista. As in the present work, Paris remains unobtainable, its skyline and all that exists within it a shimmering vision in the distance.

Regarded in this context, the poses and expressions of the female figures in Femme et enfant au balcon appear deeply enigmatic. While the young girl looks out intently across Paris, her hands clutching at the railings as if she is captivated by the city in front of her, the female figure looks not out at the impressive vista, but gazes down at the child. Her expression is inscrutable; is it a look of tender affection, or is her gaze more melancholic? Trapped behind the metaphorical railings implemented by her gender, is this woman wondering what the life of her young daughter will be like when she is older, or marvelling at the youthful innocence of the child next to her? It is this enigmatic narrative that lends Femme et enfant au balcon such powerful poignancy; as Teri Edelstein has written, ‘Equivocation might almost be said to be the subject of many of Morisot’s paintings – and in some sense, of her life’ (T.J. Edelstein, ed., Perspectives on Morisot, New York, 1992, p. 33). This theme of looking would become central to Morisot’s work, persistently adding a layer of enigma to her spontaneously rendered scenes of everyday, domestic life. In this way, Morisot transforms fleeting and transitory images into paintings that resonate with a permanence, appearing as compelling today as when they were first painted. Throughout her life, Morisot chose not to conform to the conventional roles prescribed for women. In an art world dominated by men, she defiantly pursued a career as an artist and painted the world around her, her world, with constant innovation, expanding the boundaries both of artistic convention and of the prescribed roles of her gender.

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