Berthe Morisot (1841-1895): The Cradle, 1872, Oil on

Berthe Morisot (1841-1895): The Cradle, 1872, Oil on

5/18/2021, 5:01:07 PM
Berthe Morisot (1841-1895): The Cradle, 1872, Oil on canvas, 56 x 46 cm, Grand Palais - Musée d'Orsay, Paris Berthe Morisot was one of the prominent figures of the most famous artistic movement of the 19th century; Impressionism. She cultivated her artistic talents and achieved success at an early age with acceptance to the Salon at age 23, and tenaciously held on to her rank at the forefront of French painters until her death 30 years later. Though frequently self-critical of her own work, and barred by social conventions from pursuing the same subject matter as her male counterparts, Morisot nonetheless developed the connections and familial support that enabled her to carve out her own independent career as an artist for more than three decades and leave a permanent mark on the direction of French art. 'The Cradle' is arguably Berthe Morisot's most famous painting. It was painted in Paris in 1872. It shows one of the artist's sisters, Edma, watching over her sleeping daughter, Blanche. It is the first image of motherhood—later one of her favourite subjects—to appear in Morisot's work. The mother's gaze, her bent left arm, a mirror image of the child's arm, and the baby's closed eyes form a diagonal line which is further accentuated by the movement of the curtain in the background. This diagonal links the mother to her child. Edma's gesture, drawing the net curtain of the cradle between the spectator and the baby, further reinforces the feeling of intimacy and protective love expressed in the painting. The close cropping of the scene both suggests the privileged nature of the view we have to the scene and invites a comparison with photography, a medium with which the Impressionists were famous for considering. Morisot showed 'The Cradle' at the Impressionist exhibition of 1874—the first woman to exhibit with the group. The painting was scarcely noticed although important critics commented on its grace and elegance. After unsuccessful attempts to sell it, she withdrew it from display and 'The Cradle' stayed in the model's family until it was bought by the Louvre in 1930. (Musée d'Orsay)

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