Berthe Morisot with a fan. Musée d'Orsay. Paris. Berthe Morisot with a veil. Édouard Manet. 1872. Musée du Petit Palais, Geneva.
BERTHE MORISOT WITH A FAN (ÉDOUARD MANET)
You would hardly believe how difficult it is to place a figure alone on a canvas, and to concentrate all the interest on this single and universal figure and still keep it living and real. Édouard Manet (1841-83)
Over a seven year period (1868-74), Manet painted eleven portraits of Berthe Morisot, making her his most frequent model. His wife is in only five paintings and Victorine Meurent, eight.
Manet produced his final images of Morisot during the time she became involved with his younger brother and then married him (1872-74). These last portraits provide a window into the intense desire and rivalry which Manet felt in his relationship with her. As the loss of Morisot neared, there was an increasing distortion of her image and departure from his usual painterly technique. This culminates in the skull-like portrait: Berthe Morisot in a mourning hat, 1874.*
After Morisot's marriage, Manet never painted her again. At his death, seven of her eleven portraits remained in his private collection.