MORISOT, Berthe
(b. 1841, Bourges, d. 1895, Paris)

The Artist's Mother and Sister (Reading)

1869-70
Oil on canvas, 101 x 82 cm
National Gallery of Art, Washington

Berthe Morisot was the daughter of a top-ranking civil servant and the great-niece of the eminent Rococo painter Jean-Honoré Fragonard. With her sister Edma she had taken private tuition, mainly from Corot, and from 1864 on she regularly exhibited landscapes at the Salon. The present double portrait shows her mother reading and her sister Edma on a settee listening or thinking. The picture was not only reminiscent of Manet's Reading but was in fact so heavily reworked by him (she now regarded Manet as her teacher) that she withdraw it from the 1870 Salon, where it had been accepted - no longer feeling sure of it.