Major International Exhibition to Explore the Legacy of A Founding Member of Impressionism, Berthe Morisot

Berthe Morisot, Woman Impressionist Marks Landmark Presentation
of the Artist’s Work in North America and France

Dallas, TX – October 5, 2018 – The Dallas Museum of Art is the proud co-organizer with the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec (Québec City, Canada), the Barnes Foundation (Philadelphia, PA, and the Musée d’Orsay (Paris, France) of the acclaimed internationally touring exhibition dedicated to one of the revolutionary artists of the French Impressionist movement, Berthe Morisot (1841–1895). Berthe Morisot, Woman Impressionist, which opens in Dallas after its highly successful presentations in Québec and Philadelphia, will focus on the artist’s figure paintings and portraits through approximately 70 paintings from both public institutions and private collections. Nine of the paintings are exclusive to the DMA presentation in North America and will be seen for the first time in Dallas as part of the exhibition.  This international tour is the first dedicated presentation of Morisot’s work to be held in the United States since 1987, the very first solo exhibition of her work to be mounted in Canada, and the first time since 1941 that a French national museum will devote a monographic show to this important painter. The exhibition in Dallas is co-presented by Texas Instruments and Bank of America. 

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 Barbara Thomas Lemmon Senior Curator of European Art at the Dallas Museum of Art, Berthe Morisot, Woman Impressionist will 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.

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. 

Organized semi-chronologically, the exhibition will 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.
  • Painting the Figure en plein air – A selection of Morisot’s plein-air paintings of figures in both urban and coastal settings highlights her innovative treatment of modern themes and immersive approach that integrates her subjects within their environments through brushwork and palette.
  • 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.
  • Finished/Unfinished – 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.
  • 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. 
  • 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 – 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.

Berthe Morisot, Woman Impressionist Symposium, Friday, March 29-Saturday, March 30, 2019

The DMA, in partnership with the Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History, will host a two-day symposium dedicated to the life and work of Berthe Morisot – the only scholarly symposium organized for this exhibition during the North American tour. A series of talks will explore topics including Morisot’s perspective on modern life and as a woman painter, her technique, her relationship with her sitters, and her connections to Edouard Manet and Mary Cassatt.

Speakers include Kathleen Adler, freelance curator, lecturer, and co-author of Berthe Morisot (1988); Dr. Carol Armstrong, faculty of the Department of the History of Art at Yale University; Dr. Richard Brettell, Founding Director of the Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History; Dr. Tamar Garb, During Lawrence Professor in the History of Art at University College London; Dr. Anne Higgonet, Professor and Chair of Art History at Barnard College of Columbia University; and Dr. Marni Kessler, Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the Kress Foundation Department of Art History at the University of Kansas.

Exhibition Organization:

Berthe Morisot, Woman Impressionist is co-organized by the Dallas Museum of Art, the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, the Barnes Foundation, and the Musées d'Orsay et de l’Orangerie. This exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities. The exhibition is 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 Barbara Thomas Lemmon Senior Curator of European Art at the Dallas Museum of Art. Berthe Morisot, Woman Impressionist in Dallas is co-presented by Texas Instruments and Bank of America. Additional support is provided by the Federal Council of the Arts and Humanities, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Jean Baptiste (Tad) Adoue III Fund of the Dallas Foundation and the Robert Lehman Foundation. Air transportation provided by American Airlines.

“Texas Instruments is proud to be a co-presenting sponsor of Berthe Morisot, Woman Impressionist, continuing a partnership of more than 50 years that we’ve had with the DMA,” said Andy Smith, Executive Director of the TI Foundation and Director of Corporate Philanthropy. “TI supports the arts to help improve the quality of life in our North Texas community and to contribute to the thriving arts and culture scene. As one of Dallas’ premier arts institutions, the DMA is pivotal to our city’s cultural fabric.”

“We’re proud to continue our partnership with one of our local cultural treasures, the Dallas Museum of Art, by sponsoring Berthe Morisot, Woman Impressionist,” said Richard Holt, Dallas Market President, Bank of America.” At Bank of America, our support of the arts reflects our belief that the arts matter: they are a powerful tool that can provide pathways to greater cultural understanding that can help economies thrive, help individuals connect with each other and across cultures, and educate and enrich societies.”

Exhibition Tour:

  • Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, Québec (June 21–September 23, 2018)
  • The Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia (October 21, 2018–January 14, 2019)
  • Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas (February 24–May 26, 2019)
  • Musée d’Orsay, Paris (June 17–September 22, 2019)

Exhibition Catalogue:

The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue that makes an important contribution to the field through its interdisciplinary scholarship and a specific focus on Morisot’s pioneering developments as a painter first, woman second. Edited by Sylvie Patry, an English- and French-language catalogue was co-published by Rizzoli International Publications, Inc. and the Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia, in association with the Dallas Museum of Art and the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, Québec. A separate French-language catalogue will be published by the Musée d’Orsay, Paris. The book contains essays by Morisot scholars including the exhibition co-curators Sylvie Patry and Nicole R. Myers; Cindy Kang, Barnes Foundation; Marianne Mathieu, Musée Marmottan; and Bill Scott, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, as well as a chronology by Amy Wojciechowski with additional research by Monique Nonne (hardcover, $55).

[Images (left to right): Berthe Morisot, Self-Portrait, 1885, oil on canvas. Musée Marmottan-Claude Monet, Fondation Denis et Annie Rouart, Photo courtesy Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris, France / Bridgeman Images; Berthe Morisot, The Cradle, 1872, oil on canvas, Musée d’Orsay, Paris, RF 2849, Photo by Michael Urtado. © RMN-Grand Palais / Art Resource, NY; Berthe Morisot, Woman at Her Toilette, 1875–1880, oil on canvas, The Art Institute of Chicago, Inv. no. 1924.127, Photo courtesy The Art Institute of Chicago / Art Resource, NY; Berthe Morisot, Winter, 1880, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Gift of the Meadows Foundation, Incorporated, 1981.129]

About the Dallas Museum of Art

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For more information, please contact:

Jill Bernstein