The Cradle, Morisot

The Cradle, Morisot
The Cradle, Morisot

The role of women in the world of art has always been relegated in favor of male painters and it was not until the 19th century with the Impressionist movement when some female names began to stand out in this artistic current. This is the case, of Berthe Morisot whose works were exhibited together with those of her male colleagues andshe practiced painting not as a hobby but as a true profession


Berthe Morisot (1841 – 1895) was born into an important and we althy bourgeois family; From a very young age she was encouraged by her parents to get to know the world of art and soon the young Morisot was introduced to the Barbizon School as a disciple of Corot. The young woman met the members of the Impressionist current and joined the group adopting plain air painting; In fact, it was Morisot who brought Edouard Manet closer to the group of Impressionists, the young woman always had a powerful influence on what would later become her brother-in-law (she ended up married to Eugene Manet) and for whom she acted as a muse on numerous occasions.

The work that concerns us here is The Cradle, a small oil painting barely fifty centimeters high and just over forty-five wide, which the artist made in the early seventies, in 1872. In it, the artist has depicted her sister candidly looking at her newborn niece while the girl sleeps peacefully in hercrib.

This is an intimate scene set inside a bedroom; the lady appears seated and dressed in a black dress that stands out from the rest of the composition. One of her arms rests on the baby's cradle while the other remains bent holding her face, this posture emphasizes the diagonal of her gaze that she directs towards her daughter and that will be the axis on which the artist articulates the composition. For its part, the baby rests peacefully in the crib covered with white sheets and a semi-transparent canopy, special mention deserves the Morisot's ability to recreate the girl's face under the fabric of the canopyworked through endless glazes.

Berthe Morisot's work was often criticized for dealing with intimate themes, most of them related to motherhood –this will be the first of many canvases that the artist dedicates to this theme- however we must remember that the Impressionist artists painted those scenes that were everyday and in which they normally participated or witnessed, in this sense Degas captured a good number of ballet dancers on his canvases, Renoir was a regular at parties of high society and Monet represented in his canvases the atmosphere of a train station or the tranquility of his own garden in the water lilies.

Currently, Morisot's canvas is in the Musée d'Orsay in Paris.

Popular topic