Berthe Morisot: Impressionism and the 18th Century (31 March – 10 September 2023)
In Spring 2023, Dulwich Picture Gallery will present Berthe Morisot: Impressionism and the 18th Century (5 April – 10 September 2023), the first major UK exhibition of the renowned Impressionist since 1950. In partnership with the Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris, it will bring together 40 of Morisot’s most important works from international collections, many never seen before in the UK, to reveal the artist as a trailblazer of the movement as well as uncovering a previously untold connection between her work and 18th century culture, with around 20 works for comparison.
A founding member of the Impressionist group, Berthe Morisot (1841-1895) was known for her swiftly painted glimpses of contemporary life and intimate domestic scenes. She featured prominently in the Impressionist exhibitions and defied social norms to become one of the movement’s most influential figures. Now, in a bold new retelling of Morisot’s story, Dulwich Picture Gallery will draw on new research and previously unpublished archival material from the Musée Marmottan Monet to trace the roots of her inspiration, revealing the ways in which Morisot engaged with 18th century art and culture, while also highlighting the originality of her artistic vision, which ultimately set her apart from her predecessors.
Highlights will include Eugène Manet on the Isle of Wight (1875), painted while Morisot was on honeymoon in England, and her striking Self-Portrait (1885), which will appear alongside Jean-Honoré Fragonard’s Young Woman (c.1769) from Dulwich Picture Gallery’s collection. Apollo revealing his divinity to the shepherdess Issé, after François Boucher (1892), In the Apple Tree (1890) and Julie Manet with her Greyhound Laerte (1893), are among nine paintings on loan from the Musée Marmottan Monet, many receiving their first ever showing in the UK.
Central to the exhibition is the story of the “rediscovery” of 18th century art in France and its impact on Impressionism with an accompanying body of work by artists including François Boucher, Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin, Jean-Honoré Fragonard and Antoine Watteau. After falling out of favour following the French Revolution, the art of the ancien regime was enthusiastically acquired by 19th century collectors and reintroduced to the public through exhibitions and new rooms devoted to its artists at the Musée du Louvre. Morisot copied works by Boucher; she experimented with red chalk, a technique closely associated with Rococo drawing; and declared her admiration for Jean-Baptiste Perronneau and Georges de La Tour. Uniquely amongst her compatriots, Morisot also expressed a passionate enthusiasm for English painters Thomas Gainsborough, Sir Joshua Reynolds and George Romney.
The exhibition will demonstrate the numerous ways in which Morisot engaged with 18th century themes, drawing on her depictions of everyday life, fashion, interiors and intimate scenes. Works such as At the Ball (1875) reflect the elegance of the fête galante tradition and 18th century portraiture. Hung alongside Watteau’s Les Plaisirs du Bal (c.1715-17) from Dulwich Picture Gallery, a clear comparison can be drawn between the elegantly dressed and costumed figures and Morisot’s glamorous sitter with her 18th century fan.
Morisot was known for painting glimpses into women’s private spaces along with an ability to capture feeling and emotion. Works including The Psyche Mirror (1876) and Woman at her Toilette (1875/80) form a point of comparison and contrast with 18th century examples by artists such as Boucher and Fragonard, reflecting the different priorities and perspectives of a woman Impressionist working in a modern 19th century exhibition context, compared with male Rococo painters working for private collectors.
Berthe Morisot: Impressionism and the 18th Century will be co-curated by Dr Lois Oliver (independent curator, Associate Professor in History of Art at the University of Notre Dame and Visiting Lecturer at the Courtauld Institute), Dr Marianne Mathieu (Head Curator at Musée Marmottan Monet) and Dr Dominique d’Arnoult (independent curator and Professor of Art History at the University of Lausanne). The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated scholarly catalogue published in both English and French. Edited under the Scientific Direction of Dr Marianne Mathieu, this publication will present ground-breaking archival research and fresh perspectives.
Jennifer Scott, Director of Dulwich Picture Gallery, said:
“Morisot was an innovator and a leader of the Impressionist movement. We are excited to be working in partnership with Musée Marmottan Monet to bring a remarkable body of Morisot’s work to UK audiences, and to present ground-breaking comparisons to reveal the inspiration behind Impressionism itself.”
Dr Lois Oliver, co-curator and Associate Professor in History of Art at the University of Notre Dame, said:
“Morisot was one of the greatest of the Impressionist artists, and yet her work has rarely been shown in the UK. It is an absolute pleasure to be bringing Morisot’s art to Dulwich, where for the first time it will be juxtaposed with the 18th century art that inspired her, including works by the English painters who made such an impression on Morisot during her honeymoon in England in 1875.”
Dr Marianne Mathieu, co-curator and Head Curator at Musée Marmottan Monet, is a specialist of Berthe Morisot who has made recent research discoveries around Morisot and her circle. She said:
“Musée Marmottan Monet is the world’s leading research centre for the work of Berthe Morisot. Dulwich Picture Gallery holds a celebrated collection of 18th century painting. Through this special collaboration we shine new light on Impressionism, Berthe Morisot, and the enduring influence of the 18th century.”
Notes to editors
Caitlin Collinson, PR Manager
Berthe Morisot: Impressionism and the 18th Century
31 March – 10 September 2023
Ticket on sale date will be announced via Dulwich Picture Gallery’s website and social media channels a few months prior to exhibition opening. For more information visit dulwichpicturegallery.org.uk.
Publicity images can be downloaded from the Gallery’s website at: dpg.art/presspics
About Berthe Morisot
Berthe Marie Pauline Morisot (1841-1895) was a French painter and a founding member of Impressionism. In 1864, she exhibited for the first time in the highly esteemed Salon de Paris. Her work was selected for exhibition in six subsequent Salons until, in 1874, she joined the “rejected” Impressionists in the first of their own exhibitions, which included Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas, Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Alfred Sisley. Morisot went on to participate prominently in almost all of the following eight Impressionist exhibitions between 1874 and 1886; she missed one in 1878 when she gave birth to her daughter Julie who she had with her husband Eugène Manet, the brother of her friend and colleague Édouard Manet. In 1894, she was described by influential French art critic Gustave Geffroy as one of “les trois grandes dames” of Impressionism alongside Marie Bracquemond and Mary Cassatt.
Musée Marmottan Monet
The Musée Marmottan Monet is housed in a magnificent townhouse once owned by writer and art collector Paul Marmottan. In addition to its collection of pre-modern paintings, sculptures and illuminations, it boasts the world’s leading collections of works by Claude Monet and Berthe Morisot. This outstanding Impressionist treasure is further enriched by works from Delacroix, Boudin, Manet, Degas, Caillebotte, Sisley, Pissarro, Gauguin and Rodin, with Chagall representing the modernist period.