1841-1895 | French
Jeune fille étendue
(Young Girl Lying Down)
Stamp signed “Berthe Morisot “(lower left)
Oil on canvas
In the entire world of 19th-century French art, one woman towers above all others — Berthe Morisot. Morisot was the only female Impressionist artist when they first exhibited in 1874, and she became a vital member of the group, showing in all but one of the Impressionist exhibitions. The present work is quintessential Morisot, revealing all of the qualities that made her an essential member of this elite, avant-garde group. Jeune fille étendue demonstrates the long, loose strokes and rich coloring for which her compositions are celebrated.
Jeune fille étendue presents a tender portrait of a woman reclining on a chaise lounge, absorbed in her own thoughts. Completed in 1893, two years before her death, it is a remarkable example of her mature style and displays the poetic, introspective qualities of her later works. Here, Morisot is able to capture in mood and atmosphere the sense of a daydream, and her treatment of the subject is exemplary of the warmth with which Morisot portrayed women throughout her career.
The woman here is Jeanne Fourmanoir, a frequent model for Pierre-Auguste Renoir, who was a close friend of Morisot’s. She is portrayed wearing a stylish white dress against a backdrop of diaphanous white curtains. The tonalities of this composition demonstrate Morisot’s continued interest in experimentation, in this case, with the possibilities of a limited palette. She utilizes these large expanses of white to explore nuances in the light filtering through the window, reflected in the soft blues, greens and purples Morisot incorporates into the fabrics.
The great majority of Morisot’s works were either done in pastel or watercolor; to find a major oil of this size is truly extraordinary. In fact, this is the largest of four related compositions that Morisot made in 1893 in her Parisian apartment on Rue Weber. Beginning with a preliminary pastel, she also created two smaller oils with the sitter at full-length surrounded by furnishings. In the present, largest composition, the artist has focused entirely on the sitter and eliminated any surrounding details, enhancing the sense of inner reflection and quietude.
Morisot created art that was inseparable from her life. Her career coincided with the explosion of Impressionism in Paris at the end of the 19th century, and she was one of the few women in the exclusive circle of close-knit male Impressionists. Unlike her male contemporaries who consistently portrayed bourgeois landscape scenes painted en plein air, Morisot’s career was dominated by interior and domestic views of elite Parisian woman. By representing the private world of her own social class, Morisot granted viewers access to the intimate and secluded world of the women of her day.
Born in Bourges, France, in 1841, Berthe Morisot came from a wealthy family. Like many young girls of her social class, she received private art lessons beginning at the age of 11. Her teacher, the painter Joseph Guichard, helped to introduce her to the Parisian art scene. Through him, Morisot made the acquaintances of Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot and Édouard Manet, both of whom would have a profound impact on her career and artistic style.
Morisot exhibited regularly at the Paris Salon from 1864 to 1873 until, in 1874, she joined the Société Anonyme Coopérative des Artistes Peintres, Sculpteurs, Graveurs — the group that would become known as the Impressionists. They held their first exhibition that same year, and Morisot would go on to exhibit in all but one of the Impressionist shows. Today, Morisot’s drawings, watercolors and oils are in major museums worldwide, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), the National Gallery of Art (Washington D.C.), the Tate Modern (London), the Louvre (Paris) and the Museé d’Orsay (Paris). Because Morisot was wealthy, painting was a passion and not a necessity, thus her oeuvre is selective and her works extremely difficult to acquire.
This painting is illustrated in numerous books including the Wildenstein catalog raisonné and has been included in major museum exhibitions of Morisot’s work at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), the National Gallery of Art (Washington, D.C.) and the Birmingham Museum of Art.
Painted in 1893
Canvas: 25 3/4" high x 32" wide
Frame: 34 3/4" high x 41 3/8" wide
Estate of the artist.
M. Gorce, Paris.
Galerie Durand-Ruel et Cie, Paris (acquired from the above, November 1929).
Durand-Ruel Galleries, New York (acquired from the above, April 1946).
Sam Salz, Inc., New York.
Mr. and Mrs. Philip Levin, New York (acquired from the above, April 1968).
Gift from the above to private collection, 2001.
New York, Durand-Ruel Galleries, Exhibition of Paintings by Mary Cassatt and Berthe Morisot, October-November 1930, no. 18.
New York, Durand-Ruel Galleries, Exhibition of Paintings by the Master Impressionists, October-November 1934, no. 15.
London, M. Knoedler & Co., Inc., Berthe Morisot, Madame Eugène Manet, May-June 1936, no. 9.
New York, Durand-Ruel Galleries, Exhibition of Paintings by Berthe Morisot and Mary Cassatt, October-November 1939, no. 2.
New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York Collects, July-September 1968, p. 17, no. 134.
Washington D.C., National Gallery of Art; Fort Worth, Kimbell Art Museum, and South Hadley, Massachusetts, Mount Holyoke College Art Museum, Berthe Morisot, Impressionist, September 1987-May 1988, pp. 163-164, no. 96 (illustrated in color).
New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, A Very Private Collection: Janice H. Levin’s Impressionist Pictures, November 2002-February 2003, p. 16, no. 3 (illustrated in color).
The Birmingham Museum of Art and elsewhere, An Impressionist Eye: Painting and Sculpture from the Philip and Janice Levin Foundation, February 2004-January 2005.
M. Angoulvent, Berthe Morisot, Paris, 1933, p. 147, no. 568 (illustrated; titled Sur la chaise longue).
M.-L. Bataille and G. Wildenstein, Berthe Morisot, Catalogue des peintures, pastels et aquarelles, Paris, 1961, p. 46, no. 340 (illustrated, fig. 339).
A. Higgonet, Berthe Morisot's Images of Women, Cambridge, 1992, pp. 242-143, no. 103 (illustrated).
A. Clairet, D. Montalant, and Y. Rouart, Berthe Morisot, Catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre peint, Montolivet, 1997, p. 282, no. 343 (illustrated).