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A bouquet of violets. Édouard Manet. 1872 (with detail of signature).
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A BOUQUET OF VIOLETS (ÉDOUARD MANET)

It is not enough to know your craft – you have to have feeling. Édouard Manet (1832-83)

By all accounts, Berthe Morisot fascinated the married Édouard Manet. Between 1868, when they first met, and 1874, when she married his brother, he painted her portrait eleven times.

His painting, A bouquet of violets, which Manet gave to Morisot in 1872, is another intriguing dimension to their relationship. The violets and fan are objects found in two earlier portraits: The Balcony, where she carries a red fan, and Berthe Morisot with a bouquet of violets, where the violets are pinned to her dress. The third object, a partially folded letter, reveals handwriting which reads: à Mlle Berthe and bears the signature, E. Manet . Some researchers suggest that the combination of these particular Victorian symbols -- violets, fan and letter -- creates a cloaked love message.
 

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