‘I do not think any man would ever treat a woman as his equal, and it is all I ask because I know my worth.’ Berthe Morisot 1890
This etching by Tissot depicts the artist Berthe Morisot (1841-1895), Widely associated with Monet, Renoir, Pissarro, and Degas, Berthe Morisot was a key figure in leading the Impressionist movement. Morisot’s mother supported her daughter’s artistic ambitions and provided her with a serious art education. Though Morisot’s gender barred her from accessing the full range of subject matter available to her male counterparts – cabarets, cafés, bars and brothers – her paintings address all aspects of feminine life in the late-19th century, including the intimate parts closed to male artists. Morisot, who was married and had children, fought against the preconceptions that women could not have a career and be wives and mothers. Morisot’s husband, Eugéne Manet, wholeheartedly supported her and sacrificed his own artistic ambition to manage her career. Morisot’s work influenced other female impressionist painters living in Paris, such as Mary Cassatt and Eva Gonzalés.
"Son of a fabric merchant, Tissot left for Paris in 1856 in order to study at the École des Beaux-Arts under Louis Lamothe and Hippolyte Flandrin. Tissot, in his early career, was influenced by Belgian history painter Henry Leys, which resulted in such paintings as those illustrating Goethe's Faust. In Paris he became close friends with James A. M. Whistler, Degas , and later Morisot and Manet. Tissot made his debut at the Salon of 1859, and in 1864 he showed his first works depicting scenes of modern life.
He became quite successful, and by 1865 his financial troubles had disappeared. His fame had already spread to the other side of the Channel, and in 1864 he exhibited for the first time at the Royal Academy in London. Intrigued by Japanese art, Tissot amassed a renowned collection and painted some fashionable japonaiseries. In 1870 he fought in the Franco-Prussian War and joined the Paris Commune. He left the war-ravaged city in 1871 for London, where his success continued. Degas asked him to participate in the first impressionist exhibition in 1874, but he declined. James Tissot, The Hammock 1880 (Kathleen Newton) Around 1875 he met Kathleen Newton, who became his companion until her death at age twenty-eight. Overcome with grief, he moved back to Paris. There he had a large solo exhibition in 1883 at the Palais de l'Industrie, showing paintings, works on paper, and enamels. Two years later he exhibited Quinze tableaux sur la femme à Paris, depicting the life of the modern urban woman. From that point on, Tissot became deeply involved with spiritualism and religion. He departed completely from secular subjects and began illustrating the life of Christ." (ClevlandArt.org)
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