The fashionable woman seated in the foreground is the artist's sister, Edma. However, the painting is not a portrait. Morisot's principal concern was to render a figure in a natural, outdoor environment. Edma's white dress-the prime vehicle for Morisot's study of reflected light-is saturated with delicate lavender, blue, yellow, and rose tonalitites. Deftly executed with quick brushstrokes, the painting resounds with a feeling of freshness, vibrancy and delicate charm. "Every day I pray that the Good Lord will make me like a child," Morisot wrote, "That is to say, that He will make me see nature and render it the way a child would, without preconceptions." Morisot, the great granddaughter of the 18th-century French painter Jean-Honoré Fragonard, selected this painting as one of her four works shown in the first Impressionist exhibition of 1874.

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  • Title: Reading
  • Creator: Berthe Morisot (French, 1841-1895)
  • Date Created: 1873
  • Physical Dimensions: Framed: 74.3 x 100.3 x 12.1 cm (29 1/4 x 39 1/2 x 4 3/4 in.); Unframed: 46 x 71.8 cm (18 1/8 x 28 1/4 in.)
  • Provenance: Édouard Daliphard, Poissy, Gabriel Thomas (1851-1932), Paris, Édouard Molyneux [1891-1974], Paris, (César de Hauke, Paris, sold to the Cleveland Museum of Art), The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH
  • Type: Painting
  • Rights: CC0
  • External Link: https://clevelandart.org/art/1950.89
  • Medium: oil on fabric
  • Inscriptions: Signed lower right: [black:] B [in red:] erthe M[in black:] orisot Remnants of a signature lower left: B
  • Fun Fact: The Impressionists were mostly men with a few notable exceptions, including Berthe Morisot. While Morisot's work includes many of the hallmarks of Impressionism, such as her loose, impressionistic brushwork, the subject matter of her paintings often reflects the social constraints of her gender. Her paintings often depicted domestic tableaux or images of her friends and family, such as this painting of her sister.
  • Department: Modern European Painting and Sculpture
  • Culture: France, 19th century
  • Credit Line: Gift of the Hanna Fund
  • Collection: Mod Euro - Painting 1800-1960
  • Accession Number: 1950.89

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