About This Artwork

Berthe Morisot
French, 1841-1895

Woman at Her Toilette, 1875/80

Oil on canvas
23 3/4 x 31 5/8 in. (60.3 x 80.4 cm)
Inscribed lower left: Berthe Morisot

Stickney Fund, 1924.127

Consistent with the Impressionist aesthetic that Berthe Morisot fervently espoused, Woman at Her Toilette attempts to capture the essence of modern life in summary, understated terms. The painting also moves discreetly into the realm of female eroticism explored by Edgar Degas, Édouard Manet, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir but seldom broached at this time by women artists. Rendered with soft, feathery brushstrokes in nuanced shades of lavender, pink, blue, white, and gray, the composition resembles a visual tone poem, orchestrated with such perfumed and rarified motifs as brushed blonde hair, satins, powder puffs, and flower petals. The artist even signed her name along the bottom of the mirror, as if to suggest that the image in her painting is as ephemeral as a silvery reflection. Morisot exhibited in seven of the eight Impressionist group shows; this painting was included in the fifth exhibition, in 1880, where her work received great acclaim. She was a particularly close friend of and frequent model for Manet, and she married his younger brother Eugène the year before she completed this painting. In addition to domestic interiors such as this one, Morisot’s pictorial realm included studies of women and children, gardens, fields, and seaside vacation homes.

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

Possibly Paris, 2éme Exposition de Peinture (1), April 1876. [see D. Rouart, Correspondence de Berthe Morisot (Paris, 1950), pp. 98, 257]

Paris, 5me Expostition de Peinture, 1880, cat. 115.

Paris, Durand-Ruel, Berthe Morisot, Exposition de son oeuvre, March 1896, cat. 68.

London, Durand-Ruel at the Grafton Galleries, A Selection From the Pictures by Boudin, Cézanne, Degas, Manet, Monet, Morisot, Pissarro, Renoir, Sisley, cat. 162 (ill.).

Pittsburgh, Penn., Carnegie Institute, Exhibition of Paintings Édouard Manet, Pierre Renoir, Berthe Morisot, October-December 1924, cat. 29 (ill.).

The Arts Club of Chicago, Exhibitions of Paintings of Three Woman Painters, November, 1931, not listed in cat.

The Art Institute of Chicago, A Century of Progress: Exhibition of Paintings and Sculpture, June 1-November 1, 1933, cat. 334 (ill.).

The Art Institute of Chicago, A Century of Progress: Exhibition of Paintings and Sculpture, June 1-November 1, 1934, cat. 257.

The Toledo Museum of Art, French Impressionists and Post-Impressionists, November 1934, cat. 11.

New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, French Painting from David to Toulouse-Lautrec, February-March 1941, cat. 95 (ill.).

The Arts Club of Chicago, Berthe Morisot, March-April 1943, cat. 1.

New York, Wildenstien and Co., Berthe Morisot, November-December 10, 1960, cat. 12 (ill.).

New York, Wildenstein and Co., Paris–New York: A Continuing Romance, November 3-December 19, 1977, cat. 76 (ill.).

Southampton, New York, The Parrish Art Museum, William Merritt Chase in the Company of Friends, May 12- July 29, 1979, cat. 79 (ill.).

St. Petersburg, Florida, Museum of Fine Arts, Paris in the Belle Epoque: People and Places, March 1-April 6, 1980, cat. 56 (ill.).

Albi, Musée Toulouse- Lautrec, Trésors impressionnistes du Musée de Chicago, June 27-August 31, 1980, cat. 23 (ill.).

Tokyo, The Seibu Museum of Art, The Impressionist Tradition: Masterpieces from the Art Institute of Chicago, October 18-December 17, 1985, cat. 21 (ill.), traveled to Fukuoka Art Museum, January 5-February 2, 1986 and Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art, March 4-April 13, 1986.

Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art, The New Painting: Impressionism 1874-1886, January 17- April 6, 1986, cat. 96 (ill.), traveled to the Fine Art Museum of San Francisco, M.H. de Young Memorial Museum, April 19- July 6, 1986.

Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art, Berthe Morisot: Impressionist, September 6-November 29, 1987, cat. 35 (ill.), traveled to Fort Worth, Kimbell Art Museum, December 12, 1987-February 21, 1988 and Mount Holyoke College Art Museum, March 14-May 9, 1988, shown in Washington and Forth Worth only.

Leningrad, Hermitage and Moscow, Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, From Delacroix to Matisse: Great French Paintings From the XIX century to the Beginning of the XXth century From Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Art Institute of Chicago, 1988, cat. 18 (ill.).

Lille, Palais de Beaux-Arts de Lille, Berthe Morisot 1841-1895, March 10-June 9, 2002, cat .49 (ill.), traveled to Martigny, Fondation Pierre Gianadda, June 20-November 19, 2002.

Copenhagen, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Woman in Impressionism: From Mythical Feminine to Modern Woman, October 6, 2006-January 21, 2007, cat. 71 (ill.).

Fort Worth, Tex., Kimbell Museum of Art, The Impressionists: Master Paintings from the Art Institute of Chicago, June 29–November 2, 2008, cat. 19 (ill.).

Publication History

W. Dewhurst, “Impressionist Painting: Its Genesis and Development,” International Studio 19 (May, 1903), pp. 165, 168 (ill.).

Roger Marx, “Les Femmes Peintres et l’impressionisme, Berthe Morisot,” Gazette des Beaux-Arts, per. 3, vol. 38 (December 1907), pp. 497 (ill.), 498.

The Art Institute of Chicago Annual Report 1924 (Chicago, 1924), ill.

R.M.F., “ A Painting by Berthe Morisot,” The Art Institute of Chicago Bulletin 18 (1924), pp. 50, 51, (ill.)

The Art Institute of Chicago, A Guide to the Paintings in the Permanent Collection, (Chicago, 1925), p. 65 (ill.).

Monique Angoulvent, Berthe Morisot (Paris, 1931), pp. 55, 121, no. 83.

The Art Institute of Chicago, Handbook (Chicago, 1932), pp. 62, ill. 164.

D.C. Rich, “Französische Impressionisten im Art Institute zu Chicago,” Pantheon 11 (March 1933), pp. 77 (ill.),78.

Lionello Venturi, Les Archives de l’impressionisme vol. 2 (Paris, 1939), p. 257.

Hans Huth, “Impressionism Comes to America,” Gazette des Beaux-Arts, sér. 6, vol. 29 (April, 1946), pp. 225-252, fig. 17.

The Art Institute of Chicago, A Brief Guide to the Collections (Chicago, 1956), p. 34.

The Art Institute of Chicago, Paintings in the Art Institute, A Catalogue of the Picture Collection (Chicago, 1961), pp. 340, ill. p. 288.

M.-L. Bataille and Georges Wildenstein, Berthe Morisot: Catalogue des peintures, pastels, aquarelles (Paris, 1961), no. 84, pl. 37.

Jean Dominique Rey, Berthe Morisot (New York, 1982), pp. 29, 35 (ill.), 37, 51.

Richard R. Brettell, French Impressionists (Chicago, 1987), pp. 24 (det. ill.), 25, 27 (ill.), 118.

Anne Higonnet, Berthe Moristot’s Images of Women (Cambridge, 1992), pp. 106, 155, pl. 7.

Alain Clairet et al., Berthe Morisot 1841-1895: Catalogue raisonné de l’oeuvre peint (Montolivet, 1997), no. 85 (ill.).

Wendy Slatkin, Women Artists in History: From Antiquity to the Present (Upper Saddle River, 1997), pp. 137-139 (ill.).

Richard R. Brettell et al., Impression: Painting Quickly in France, 1860-1890, exh. cat. (London, The National Gallery and Williamston, Mass., Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, 2001), p. 91 (ill.).

Richard R. Brettell and Anne-Brigitte Fonsmark, Gauguin and Impressionism, exh. cat. (Copenhagen, Ordrugpgaard, 2005/Forth Worth, Kimbell Art Museum, 2005-6), p. 85, fig. 62.

The Age of Impressionism at the Art Institute of Chicago (New Haven and London, 2008), cat. 19, pp. 58–59 (ill.).

Ownership History

William Merritt Chase, New York; his sale, New York, American Art Galleries, 1896, lot 1093 [according to Clairet 1997]. Mary Cassatt, 1896 [see Paris 1896]. Durand-Ruel, Paris, 1905 [see London 1905]. Wildenstein & Co., New York [according to Chicago 1933]. Paul Rosenberg, New York by 1924; sold to the Art Institute, 1924.

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