At the Ball by Berthe Morisot - 1875 - 62 x 52 cm Musée Marmottan Monet At the Ball by Berthe Morisot - 1875 - 62 x 52 cm Musée Marmottan Monet

At the Ball

Oil on canvas • 62 x 52 cm
  • Berthe Morisot - January 14, 1841 - March 2, 1895 Berthe Morisot 1875

On this day in 1841, Berthe Morisot, a French painter and a member of the circle of painters in Paris who became known as the Impressionists, was born. A student of Corot and muse of Manet, Morisot was the first woman Impressionist and one of the main members of the group alongside Monet, Renoir, Degas, and Pissarro. Unlike her colleagues, however, she sold relatively few works, so her art is rarely represented in museums. Her fellow artists greatly admired her taste for light colors and pastels and her skilled draftsmanship and freedom of handling. 

The beautiful woman in the painting, with her brown eyes and brunette allure, resembles Berthe Morisot, even though she is not the artist herself. It seems Morisot deliberately chose a model who mirrored her own features. The artist has portrayed her model in an exquisite evening gown with gloves and dangling earrings. Adorned with flowers in her hair and adorning her neckline, she becomes a botanical spectacle, with the blossoms on her fan and the verdant backdrop crafting a floral tapestry around her. Intriguingly, Morisot was known to eschew social gatherings, preferring a minimalist wardrobe of black or white. Why did she decide to depict such a scene then?

In 1875, the year Morisot crafted this masterpiece, she had played a pivotal role in founding the Impressionist movement and was actively preparing for the group's second exhibition. A fundamental principle of Impressionism was the portrayal of contemporary life, departing from historical battles or biblical narratives.

Berthe Morisot led an exceptional (though short) artistic life. If you would like to learn more about it (including her possible love affair with Manet) please check our Mega Impressionism Course.  :)

P.S. Here's another famous lady with a fan! Beautiful, isn't she? This also happens to be the last completed painting by Gustav Klimt!