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In a Villa at the Seaside, 1874

Berthe Morisot

French, 1841-1895
Oil on canvas
19-3/4 x 24 in. (50.2 x 61 cm)
Norton Simon Art Foundation
M.1979.21.P
© Norton Simon Art Foundation

On view

Raised in a privileged Parisian milieu, Morisot was the only woman to contribute to the first exhibition of the avant-garde Impressionist group, which opened in the spring of 1874. She painted this picture the following summer, during a joint vacation on the Normandy coast by the Morisot and Manet families. It was during this trip that Morisot became engaged to Manet’s brother, Eugène. Using radically simplified means (a few wispy strokes describe the seated figure’s veil; the sea and sky are flat as the canvas on which they’re painted), Morisot conjured a comfortably bourgeois scene. Her models were most likely her sister Edma and Edma’s daughter. Their pointed remove from the beach confirms their middle-class respectability—and, indeed, that of the painter herself.

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