You can hardly conceive how surprised we all were and how moved, too, by the disappearance of this distinguished woman, who had such a splendid feminine talent and who brought honor to our Impressionist group which is vanishing -- like all things. Poor Mme Morisot, the public hardly knows her!
-- Camille Pissarro to his son Lucien, shortly after Berthe Morisot's death in 1895.
Berthe Morisot was at the heart of the circle of artists who initiated Impressionism and was considered the quintessential Impressionist by contemporary critics such as Paul Mantz and Théodore Duret. Morisot exhibited in seven of their eight exhibitions, missing only the 1879 show due to an illness following the birth of her daughter Julie. She was directly involved in the organization of these shows and promoted the group's aesthetic and political agenda. Her work was handled by the Impressionist dealer Paul Durand-Ruel and her home was a gathering place for intellectuals and artists such as Stéphane Mallarmé, Manet, Monet Degas, Renoir, Fantin-Latour, Puvis de Chavannes, and fellow woman Impressionist Mary Cassatt. Only she and Monet adhered to Impressionism throughout their careers.
Morisot had an impeccable artistic pedigree and credentials. She studied with Corot, Oudinot, Daubigny, Daumier, and Aimée Millet; married Edouard Manet's brother Eugène; and was purportedly a granddaughter of Fragonard. The third daughter of a high-ranking civil servant whose career took the family throughout France (Valenciennes, Bourges -- where Berthe was born in 1841, Limoges, Caen, Rennes, and finally to Paris in 1851), Morisot and her older sister received drawing lessons as a birthday present from their father in 1857. The following year she and her sister Edma studied under Joseph-Benoit Guichard, a pupil of Ingres and Delacroix, and registered as copyists at the Louvre. Although the official art schools were closed to women then, through private tuition Berthe and Edma received an unusually serious art education. The Morisot sisters met Corot in 1861 and began to paint en plein air at Pontoise and in Normandy and Brittany. Morisot exhibited at the official Salon from 1864 to 1868 and received favorable reviews.
In early 1868, Henri Fantin-Latour introduced her to Edouard Manet. She posed for