A terrific show of the impressionist art of Berthe Morisot opened at the Musée d’Orsay last week. Morisot was a friend and colleague of many of the most famous impressionist artists, such as Manet, Monet, Degas and Renoir. I find her work to be in the same league, so I suspect that her reputation was a victim of sexism, especially since her subject matter was often more domestic and “feminine” than that of her male peers. She also died rather young, at 54.
Both Jared and Eugène were also interested, so we met at the museum on Tuesday morning. I slowed them down with all my picture taking, but they were gracious. After the show we had a satisfactory lunch in the fifth floor café. Eugène headed out to an appointment while Jared and I saw the Modèle Noir exhibition that I had also seen with Sherard, then explored the permanent collection (all the while enjoying the rather good a/c).
Here are a dozen Morisot paintings that I particularly liked, but I strongly recommend going to the show if you’re able. Many of the works are in private collections, so there may never be another opportunity to see them.
There is also a nice room of paintings by Morisot at the Musée Marmottan-Monet, which Eugène and I visited a few weeks back.
The Musée Marmottan Monet is a bit of a hodge-podge. Marmottan, father and son, collected medieval and Renaissance art, post-Revolutionary art and furniture, and lots of other stuff. The son willed the property to the Académie des Beaux-Arts, under which many donations were accepted, most significantly quite a few works of Claude Monet, donated by his son, Michel. The problem as I see it is that the best work by Monet had already been scooped up by other museums, notably the Musée d’Orsay, leaving lesser or more personal works for this museum; the main reason to visit it is if you’re interested in an exhibition. Eugène and I wanted to see their current exhibition, “Oriental Visions, From Dreams Into Light,” so we headed over on Saturday afternoon. It was worth a look, and I also enjoyed a few items from the permanent collection. First and foremost were two paintings by Ingres.
There were lots of other bathing beauties, which felt derivative and repetitive, but Eugène pointed out the amusing caption on the “fantasy scene” shown below: “No woman, not even a prostitute, would show herself this way in the street, smiling seductively, with her breasts on display.”
I did quite like these two paintings, both of which show mastery in their portrayal of sun and shade:
Many of the paintings depicted Morocco or Algeria, which aren’t to my way of thinking “oriental,” but Eugène explained that the term is being used to refer to anything exotically foreign.
It said something, however, that my favorite painting in the exhibition was the one below, which bears no resemblance — except in its title –to anything else in the exhibition.