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The Cradle, 1872

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Artist Morisot, Berthe

In 1874 Berthe Morisot decided to exhibit several works, including The Cradle, with the Société Anonyme des Artistes, Peintres, Sculpteurs, Graveurs, etc., Exposition de 1874; in joining the show at 35 Boulevard des Capucines in the studio of the photographer Nadar she allied herself with the Impressionist group rather than with the official Salon, where she had submitted successfully since 1864.

The Cradle was unquestionably inspired by the painter's sister, Edma Pontillon, whose daughter, Blanche, was the model for the sleeping child. The painting combines boldness of composition, owing much to Manet, with a discreet and subtle sensitivity implicit in the subject matter itself. The critical and public reaction to this work was restrained, even favorable compared to the attacks Monet and Cézanne suffered. ‘Nothing could be truer or at the same time more touching than this young mother, who, although dressed in a shoddy way, bends over a cradle into which our view of a pink child is muted by a pale cloud of muslin,” wrote Jean Prouvaire in Le Rappel, April 20, 1874. Some critics insisted on scoffing at the free handling that gives the picture so much of its charm; for example, Louis Leroy wrote in Le Charivari on April 25, 1874, about another painting by Morisot in the same exhibition : “Don’t talk to me about Miss Morisot! That young lady doesn’t bother herself reproducing a lot of useless detail. When she wants to paint a hand, she just makes as many brushstrokes lengthwise as there are fingers and that’s the end of it” (John Rewald, The History of Impressionism |fourth edition), New York, 1973, p. 322). However, these attacks did not discourage Berthe Morisot; the following year she participated in the auction (March 24, 1875) organized by the Impressionists. In later years she parti- cipated in all of the group’s exhibitions except that of 1879, shortly after the birth of a child.

Monet painted the same subject in 1867 when his son Jean was born (Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon, Upperville, Virginia).



Madame Pontillon, née Edma Morisot, Berthe's sister, Mme. Forget née Blanche Pontillon, theartist's niece, the child sleeping in the picture;

Musée du Louvre (for 300,000 francs), 1930.



1874 Paris, 35 boulevard des Capucines (Nadar’s studio), Société Anonyme des
Artistes Peintres, Sculpteurs, Graveurs, etc. —,Exposition de [874 (first: Impressionist exhibition), no. 104

1896 Paris, Durand-Ruel Gallery, March 5-21, Berthe Morisot, no. 42 (as belonging to Mme.Pontillon)

1902 Paris, Durand-Ruel Gallery, April 23 - May 10, Berthe Morisot, no. 40

1919 Paris, Bernheim-Jeune Gallery, November 7 - 22, Cent Guvres de Berthe Morisot, no. 7

1929 Paris, Bernheim-Jeune Gallery, May 6-24, Berthe Morisot, no. 21 (as belonging to Mme. Forget)

1932 Paris, Orangerie des Tuileries, Acquisitions du Louvre, no, 102

1945 Parts, Musée du Louvre, Chefs d'uvre de la Peinture, no. 110

1970-1971 Leningrad, Moscow, and Madrid, Impressionnistes Francais, no. 53


Selected Bibliography

M.L. Bataille and Georges Wildenstein, Berthe Morisot, catalogue des peincures, pastels, et aquarelles, Paris, 1961, no. 25;

L. de Lora, “Exposition libre des peintres,”Le Gaulois, April 18, 1874; J. Prouvaire, Le Rappel, April 20, 1874; A. Fourreau, Berthe Morisot. Paris, 1925, p. 36;

P. Jamot. Bulletin des Musées de France ( August 1930), p. 158-159; M. Angoulvent, Berthe Morisot. Paris, 1933, Pp. 46-47, and p. 119, no. 33;

G. Bazin, Trésors de UImpressionnisme au Louvre. Paris, 1958, p. 147;

H. Adhémar in Musée du Louvre, Catalogue des peintures, pastels, et sculptures impressionnistes. Paris, 1958, no. 286.



Institution Musée d'Orsay
Medium Oil on canvas
Dimensions 56 x 46 cm













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