Berthe Morisot (1841-1895)
The Collection of Terry Allen Kramer
Berthe Morisot (1841-1895)

Portrait de Blanche Pontillon

Berthe Morisot (1841-1895)
Portrait de Blanche Pontillon
pastel on canvas
18 x 15 1/8 in. (45.7 x 38.5 cm.)
Drawn in 1877
Galerie des Quatre Chemins, Paris.
M. Knoedler & Co., Inc., New York (acquired from the above, July 1953).
Dorothy Dear Hutton, Westbury, New York (acquired from the above, January 1957).
Acquired by the late owner, by circa 1995.
M.-L. Bataille and G. Wildenstein, Berthe Morisot: Catalogue des peintures, pastels et aquarelles, Paris, 1961, p. 52, no. 435 (illustrated, fig. 418).
Paris, Galerie Durand-Ruel et Cie., Berthe Morisot (Madame Eugène Manet), March 1896, p. 31, no. 175.


Allegra Bettini
Allegra Bettini




Morisot was a founding member of the Impressionist exhibiting society and one of its most dedicated participants, contributing work to all but one of the group shows between 1874 and 1886. Although Morisot's oeuvre includes suburban views and pastoral landscapes, she is best known for her interior scenes and for intimate portraits such as the present one. Like Mary Cassatt, the other famous female artist active in the Impressionist circle, Morisot based her work primarily on people she knew and places she frequented. Because of the social conventions that both female artists upheld, the subjects of their art differed somewhat from those of their male counterparts, who more often depicted Parisian nightlife and public entertainments. Such gender distinctions were also reflected in the commentary on Morisot's art; some critics attributed her loose brushwork and pastel colors to her femininity. At the same time, however, these very elements of Morisot's practice were also emblematic of the Impressionist style.
As Philippe Burty wrote in a review of the Fifth Impressionist Exhibition in 1880, "Morisot handles the palette and brush with a truly astonishing delicacy" (quoted in The New Painting: Impressionism, 1874-1886, exh. cat., The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, 1986, p. 326). The following year, Gustave Geffroy proclaimed, "No one represents Impressionism with more refined talent or with more authority than Morisot" (quoted in ibid., p. 366). The freedom of Morisot's brushwork and pastel application, as well as the softness of her color palette were thus recast as delicate and subtle articulations that define an entire artistic movement, confirming the level of her talent.

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