As part of its continuing commitment to the arts, the Watermill today brings you – – Impressionist gossip.
We were were talking a couple of days or so about the Impressionist Berthe Morisot, one of my painting heroines, and I suggested that the portrait painted by Édouard Manet (see below) strongly suggested that he was in love with her. Carrying on my studies in the DailyArt online magazine, I came across some fascinating snippets of gossip about these 19th century French artists and their lovers.
Before we move on to Monet and Morisot, I have to admit I was waylaid by the picture above of Claude Monet and his lover/wife Alice Hoschedé, feeding the pigeons in St Mark’s Square, Venice. It’s just like a present-day selfie. And Monet isn’t looking too spruce, is he? The pigeon on his head doesn’t help either! And what’s that on Alice’s hat? It looks a bit like a double-tailed lizard, although I suspect it’s just decoration.
But back to Manet and Morisot.
Berthe met Édouard in 1869, when she was an art student, and he painted her many times after that, the most famous one above. Zuzana Stańska in The DailyArt magazine tells us: “A contemporary observed: “When [Manet] paints Victorine [Manet’s often used model], he paints her as a beautiful object; when he paints Berthe, he paints her with love and tenderness.”
The article adds: “But in any case, he was married and she was careful. In 1874, at the age of 33 – late for a woman of that period – she married the 41-year-old Manet’s younger brother Eugène, who was also a painter. Eugène then set aside his own career to support hers. After this wedding, Édouard never painted Berthe again.”
So, in the absence of any incriminating documentary evidence, we still don’t know. But I think Manet’s portrait is worth a thousand words. I wonder what Eugène made of it all? Here’s Berthe’s picture of him on holiday in the romantic Isle of Wight.
If you want to read more Impressionist gossip in DailyArt magazine, please just click here.
But infectious as the gossip may be, one of my lasting impressions of the greatest Impressionist of them all, Monet, is of him standing in a billowing suit with a pigeon on his head.
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