New Exhibition - June 21 to September 23, 2018
QUÉBEC, June 20, 2018 /CNW Telbec/ - From June 21 to September 23, 2018, the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec (MNBAQ) is proud to present in Québec City the world premiere, with the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, the Dallas Museum of Art and the Musée d'Orsay and the Musée de l'Orangerie in Paris, an exhibition devoted to Berthe Morisot (1841-1895), a major artist in the French impressionist movement. Berthe Morisot, Woman Impressionist, organized jointly by the four institutions, explores the paintings of figures and portraits that dominate the artist's output by assembling nearly 60 canvases from public institutions and private collections from around the world. The exhibition is the first one devoted to the artist in North America since 1987 and is also the first monograph presented in Canada and in a French national museum since 1941.
A woman at the heart of the impressionist movement
One of the founding members of the French Impressionists, Berthe Morisot was celebrated in her time as one of the leaders of the group, and her innovative works were coveted by dealers and collectors alike. Despite her accomplishments, today she is not as well-known as her Impressionist colleagues, such as Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Co-curated by Sylvie Patry, Chief Curator/Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs and Collections at the Musée d'Orsay, Paris and Consulting Curator at the Barnes Foundation, and Nicole R. Myers, The Lillian and James H. Clark Curator of European Painting and Sculpture at the Dallas Museum of Art, Berthe Morisot, Woman Impressionist both illuminate and reassert Morisot's role as an essential figure within the Impressionist movement and the development of modern art in Paris in the second half of the 19th century.
Today Berthe Morisot is assuredly considered a major Impressionist artist. The exhibition traces the exceptional path of a female painter who, in opposition to the norms of her time and social background, became an important member of the Parisian avant-garde from the late 1860s until her untimely death in 1895. Through her portrayal of the human figure, Morisot was able to explore the themes of modern life that came to define Impressionism, such as the intimacy of contemporary bourgeois living and leisure activities, the importance of female fashion and the toilette, and women's domestic work, all while blurring the lines between interior and exterior, public and private, finished and unfinished.
Morisot believed that painting must strive to "capture something that is happening". Modern subjects and speed of execution are linked to the temporality of the representation and the artist tirelessly confronted the ephemeral and the passage of time. Consequently, her final works, characterized by a novel expressiveness and musicality, invite often melancholic meditation on the relationships between art and life.
Seven rich and diverse themes
Organized semi-chronologically, the exhibition examine Morisot's painterly innovations and fundamental position within Impressionism across the arc of her productive, yet relatively short life. The exhibition explores the following periods and themes of Morisot's work.
Becoming an Artist
The introductory section looks at Morisot's formative years, when she left behind the amateur artistic practice associated with women of her upbringing and established herself as both a professional artist and a key contributor to the emerging Impressionist movement in the late 1860s and early 1870s.
Beginning in the late 1860s, Morisot sought to renew the painting of figures by painting outdoors. She produced numerous paintings featuring her family circle in Paris in gardens or by the sea, blending the evocation of bourgeois leisure activities and pictorial innovation.
Fashion, Femininity, and la Parisienne
The importance of fashion in constructing modern bourgeois femininity forms a central part of the artist's paintings of the 1870s and 1880s. This interest is revealed in Morisot's creations and adaptations of quintessential Impressionist subjects, such as elegant Parisian women shown at the ball or dressing in their homes, and the leisure activities associated with suburban parks and gardens.
Women at Work
Morisot's depictions of the domestic servant—the majority of whom she employed in her household—reflect her own status as a working professional woman. Her interest in painting these women raises questions about bourgeois living and the intimacy of the shared domestic setting.
The increasing immediacy of Morisot's technique, and her radical experimentation with the concept of finished and unfinished in her work, exposes the process of painting and furthers the indeterminacy between figure and setting begun in her plein-air work.
Windows and Thresholds
Morisot's interest in liminal spaces is revealed in her paintings of subjects such as doorways and windows. Within these often spatially ambiguous settings, Morisot's masterful evocation of light and atmosphere, the most ephemeral of her subjects, serves to anchor the human figure within these transitory spaces.
A Studio of Her Own
Virginia Woolf stressed the importance of a room of one's own in the feminine creative process. Morisot's late career paintings from the 1890s often depict her personal domestic space, which served as both studio and setting. During this period, Morisot reached a new expressiveness in her painting as figures become increasingly enveloped by their surroundings. The vibrant, saturated palette and sinuous brushwork that she adopted in these final works demonstrate their visual and symbolic affinities with the emerging Symbolist aesthetic of the time.
As they proceed through the exhibition rooms in the Gérard Morisset Pavilion, simulating the spirit of the painter's interiors, visitors can admire many masterpieces that characterize Berthe Morisot's elegant, refined work. The Cradle is indisputably Morisot's most famous work. Presented at the first Impressionist exhibition in 1874, it caught the attention of the critics and established the artist as one of the movement's main protagonists. This canvas depicts her sister Edma looking upon her sleeping baby. This marked the first appearance of the theme of maternity in Morisot's work. It would become one of her preferred subjects.
In Woman and Children on the Lawn (The Lilacs at Maurecourt) painted in 1874, Morisot fully committed herself to outdoor painting. She adhered to a quest shared by all impressionists, who sought to integrate figures into a landscape and natural light. By relying on contrasts, she created a poetic, sophisticated, highly personal atmosphere.
At the Ball (1875) is part of a series of canvases on the themes of the ball and the boudoir. This outstanding painting by Morisot is part of an array of works in which the references to rococo art are the most clearly asserted: an elegant festive scene in the manner of Watteau adorns the young woman's pretty fan.
Mention should also be made of the painting Eugène Manet and His Daughter in the Garden at Bougival (1881), one of Morisot's rare male portraits. It is part of a series of three paintings, two of which are presented in the exhibition, showing Eugène Manet, the artist's husband, and their daughter Julie in the garden of their home in Bougival. The natural character of this scene taken from real life is magnificent, a striking reflection of a father's affection for his daughter.
Lastly, In the Country (After Lunch) from 1881 is another remarkable painting by Morisot. The garden behind the model forms a frieze that evokes the luxuriant landscapes of wallpapers in fashion in the second half of the 19th century. The lush vegetation viewed through the window contributes to blurring spatial reference points and confirming the virtuoso rendering of light, almost suggesting an outdoor composition.
Impressions Morisot, a documentary film devoted to Morisot
For the considerable pleasure of visitors, selected excerpts from Monique Quintart's documentary film Impressions Morisot will be shown in the exhibition hall. Through the filmmaker's original approach, the public will encounter the work and universe of Berthe Morisot. Monique Quintart has followed in Berthe Morisot's footsteps and examined her painting, works, texts, landscapes and houses. She has visited the places where the artist lived and worked in order to assemble a striking portrait.
The full version of the film (52 minutes) will be shown seven times during the summer in the Sandra and Alain Bouchard Auditorium at the MNBAQ.
After Québec City, Philadelphia, Dallas and Paris
The MNBAQ is proud to launch the tour of this prestigious exhibition, which will subsequently be presented at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia from October 20, 2018 to January 14, 2019. The Dallas Museum of Art will host the monograph from February 24 to May 26, 2019. This remarkable international adventure will conclude during the summer in Paris at the Musée d'Orsay, from June 17 to September 22, 2019.
The exhibition catalogue
The 248-page catalogue presents 150 colour illustrations, mainly Morisot's paintings produced throughout her career, which vividly reveal the boldness of her technical experimentation and her interest in modern subjects drawn from everyday life. The essays examine the artist in the context of her times, critical reception for her work, her choices of subjects and settings, and the current state of knowledge on her output. Berthe Morisot, femme impressionniste, will enrich our knowledge of the artist through its interdisciplinary approach and revelation of Morisot's innovations both as a painter and as a woman.
Published under the direction of Sylvie Patry, Director of Collections and Exhibitions at the Musée d'Orsay in Paris and guest curator at the Barnes Foundation, the catalogue proposes essays by Cindy Kang, Marianne Mathieu, Nicole R. Myers, Sylvie Patry and Bill Scott. A chronology established by Amalia Wojciechowski and additional research by Monique Nonne round out the publication. Catherine Morency, in collaboration with Rizzoli, coordinated the publication and editing of the French version of the catalogue, available at the MNBAQ bookstore-boutique and in Québec bookstores. It is distributed by Dimedia for $64.95. ISBN: 978-2-550-80634-9.
Berthe Morisot, Woman Impressionist is organized by the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, the Barnes Foundation (Philadelphia), the Dallas Museum of Art, and the Musées d'Orsay et de l'Orangerie (Paris).
Director of Exhibitions and Mediation, MNBAQ, MNBAQ
Sylvie Patry, Chief Curator and Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs and Collections, Musée d'Orsay
Nicole R. Myers
Nicole R. Myers, the Lillian and James H. Clark Curator of European Painting and Sculpture, Dallas Museum of Art
Curator of exhibitions, MNBAQ
Scenography and Graphic Design
Yasmée Faucher, MNBAQ
Marie-Hélène Audet, MNBAQ
Anne-Josée Lacombe, MNBA Q
The Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec is a state corporation funded by the Gouvernement du Québec.
Berthe Morisot, Woman Impressionist
Gérard-Morisset Pavilion of the MNBAQ
June 21 to September 23, 2018
SOURCE Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec
For further information: 418 643-2150 or 1 866 220-2150