Berthe Morisot (1841-1895)
Berthe Morisot (1841-1895)
Berthe Morisot (1841-1895)
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Berthe Morisot (1841-1895)
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On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial int… Read more The Cox Collection: The Story of Impressionism
BERTHE MORISOT (1841-1895)

Fillette portant un panier

BERTHE MORISOT (1841-1895)
Fillette portant un panier
signed 'Berthe Morisot' (lower left)
oil on canvas
27 ½ x 20 ¼ in. (69.9 x 51.2 cm.)
Painted in 1888
Paul Bérard, Paris (by 1892); Estate sale, Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, 8 May 1905, lot 13.
Joseph Reinach, Paris (acquired at the above sale).
Julie Reinach-Goujon, Paris (by descent from the above).
Françoise Beck, Paris (by descent from the above).
Wildenstein & Co. Inc., New York (acquired from the above, 1972).
Acquired from the above by the late owner, 23 February 1977.
M. Angoulvent, Berthe Morisot, Paris, 1933, p. 132, no. 295.
M.-L. Bataille and G. Wildenstein, Berthe Morisot: Catalogue des peintures, pastels et aquarelles, Paris, 1961, p. 37, no. 218 (illustrated, fig. 219).
P. Huisman, Morisot: Charmes, Lausanne, 1962, p. 44 (illustrated in color, p. 45).
J. Normile, "In Praise of Women" in Architectural Digest, May-June 1976, p. 65 (detail illustrated in color, p. 64).
A. Clairet, D. Montalant and Y. Rouart, Berthe Morisot: Catalogue raisonné de l’œuvre peint, Montolivet, 1997, p. 223, no. 222 (illustrated).
Paris, Boussod et Valadon et Cie., Exposition de tableaux, pastels et dessins par Berthe Morisot, May-June 1892, p. 16, no. 5.
Paris, Galerie Durand-Ruel et Cie., Berthe Morisot (Mme Eugène Manet), March 1896, p. 19, no. 33.
London, Royal Academy of Art, Exhibition of French Art, 1200-1900, January-March 1932, p. 240, no. 528 (titled La Cigale).
Paris, André Weill, Berthe Morisot, 1947.
Albi, Musée Toulouse-Lautrec, Exposition Berthe Morisot, July-September 1958, p. 31, no. 44.
New York, Wildenstein & Co. Inc., Loan Exhibition of Paintings: Berthe Morisot, For the Benefit of the National Organization for Mentally Ill Children, Inc., November-December 1960, no. 47 (illustrated).
London, Wildenstein & Co., Ltd., Loan Exhibition of Paintings: Berthe Morisot, In Aid of the French Hospital and Dispensary, London, January-February 1961, p. 47, no. 41 (illustrated).
Vevey, Musée Jenisch, Berthe Morisot, June-September 1961, p. 10, no. 53.
Paris, Musée Jacquemart-André, Berthe Morisot, 1961, no. 64a.
Special notice
On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial interest in the outcome of the sale of certain lots consigned for sale. This will usually be where it has guaranteed to the Seller that whatever the outcome of the auction, the Seller will receive a minimum sale price for the work. This is known as a minimum price guarantee. This is such a lot.

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Adrien Meyer
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Lot Essay

Berthe Morisot, alongside her fellow Impressionists, answered poet Charles Baudelaire’s call to paint modern life. The circumscribed world bourgeoise women were permitted to traverse, however, and the social dangers of transgressing those bounds, meant that for Morisot the domain of “modern life” was necessarily smaller than that of her male counterparts. She could not, for example, visit the café-concerts or the frenzied dance halls her contemporaries depicted by herself. Morisot therefore painted the concentrated world in which bourgeoise women resided, most notably parks, their homes, and the boudoir. She was particularly attracted to the liminal spaces of the feminine sphere—balconies, windows, gardens—spaces neither wholly exterior nor interior, public nor private. Modern femininity, often shown through the cosmopolitan Parisienne or the melancholic waif, is thus the most dominant subject in her oeuvre, and the one the artist chose to exhibit most often. Fillette portant un panier, one of Morisot’s renowned half-length portraits, is both a disarming portrayal of an adolescent girl, and a declaration of the artist’s allegiance to Impressionism.
Morisot’s mother set her upon her artistic path when, in 1857, she enrolled Berthe and her sister Edma in drawing lessons, and further emphasized the importance of the arts by holding salons frequented by artists such as Pierre Puvis de Chavannes, Edgar Degas, Henri Fantin-Latour, Edouard Manet, and James Tissot. Despite the support of her family, Morisot’s pursuit of an artistic career was hindered by her gender from the beginning. An early tutor wrote that with further instruction Morisot’s innate talent would propel her beyond the “drawing room accomplishments” deemed acceptable for a bourgeoise woman, warning her parents that “in the upper-class milieu to which you belong, this will be revolutionary, I might say almost catastrophic” (quoted in D. Rouart, The Correspondence of Berthe Morisot, New York, 1957, p. 14). His words proved prophetic, at least in regards to Morisot’s talent: in 1864, at the age of only 23, two paintings by Morisot were accepted into the Salon, and by the mid-1870s she was a leading figure of the Impressionists.
Alongside Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro and Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Morisot cofounded the Société anonyme cooperative d’artistes peintres, graveurs (the group which would become known as the Impressionists), and participated in nearly every exhibition between 1874-1886. Rendered with fluid, discrete brushstrokes and a luminous pastel palette, Fillette portant un panier represents what some critics saw as Morisot’s quintessential Impressionism. Her instinctive technique, radiant light and visible brushwork softens forms, while her insistent refusal to differentiate between figure and ground by painting both with the same intensity blurs the boundaries between object and setting. As Paul Manzt declared in his review of the Third Impressionist Exhibition: “The truth is that if there is a single Impressionist in the group…it is Berthe Morisot. Her painting…has all the freshness of improvisation. Here is where we really find the impression perceived by a sincere eye, faithfully rendered by a hand that does not lie” (quoted in N. Myers, Berthe Morisot Woman Impressionist, exh. cat., Dallas Museum of Art, 2018, p. 89).
Where most contemporaneous women artists restricted their production to flower painting or landscape watercolor, Morisot concentrated her formal explorations on the female figure, typically modeled after family members, neighbors, and servants. Frédéric Bazille’s use of outdoor light to shape the female subject in Vue de village (1868, Musée Fabre, Montpellier) introduced her to the possibilities inherent in this form. In Fillette portant un panier Morisot creates an expansive sense of light within the bounds of the frame, and the resonance between the feathered blues, taupes and pinks of the background’s and the sitter’s garb and rosy cheeks unifies the visual field. The compositional format—half-length or three-quarters depiction of a female sitter, rendered with a light palette—is one to which Morisot frequently turned. La fille de l'artiste avec une perruche (Clairet, Montalant, and Rouart, no. 266; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.) similarly renders Morisot’s adolescent daughter in distinct strokes of pink, cream and blue. This arrangement also appears in two celebrated pendants pieces Morisot exhibited at the Impressionist exhibition in 1880: L'Hiver and Été (Jeune femme près d’une fenêtre) (Clairet, Montalant, and Rouart, nos. 87 and 75; Dallas Museum of Art and Musée Fabre, Montpellier). In these half-length portraits Morisot employs a consistent color palette to unify fore- and backgrounds: the varying shades of brown in L’Hiver and the blush tones of Éte.
Painted during one of her most inventive periods, the present work exemplifies both the style and subject matter that connected Morisot’s practice with the eighteenth-century art movement Rococo. Painting in the midst of a Rococo revival, Morisot was not alone in openly admiring its sensual elegance, and praised its ability to capture what she saw as true beauty. The pastel hues, virtuosic brushwork and lighthearted charm of Fillette portant un panier recall that of Rococo masters François Boucher and Jean-Honoré Fragonard, and Morisot here elevates the simple image of a girl with a basket into one that evokes springtime, bounty and lightness. In 1880 art critic Charles Ephrussi—who owned L’Hiver—rapturized over Morisot’s “gaiety and nonchalance,” and could have been speaking of the present work when he stated: “She loves painting that is joyous and lively; she grinds flower petals onto her palette, in order to spread them later on her canvas with airy, witty touches, thrown down a little haphazardly. These harmonize, blend, and finish by producing something vital, fine, and charming…this fugitive lightness, this likeable vivacity, sparkling and frivolous recalls Fragonard” (quoted in E. Melanson, “Impressionism and the Salons Juifs: The Ephrussi Family and Jewish Patronage Networks in 1880s Paris,” in Athanor, 2012, vol. 30, p. 68).
Despite her early commercial success (at the 1875 Hôtel Drouot sale with Sisley and Renoir, Morisot was the only artist to sell all her lots), Morisot sold very little during her lifetime. More than half, and perhaps as much as 85%, of her 423 catalogued paintings were bequeathed to her daughter, Julie Manet. The present work, one of the select few the artist parted with, was first owned by one of Renoir’s most important patrons, Paul Bérard.

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