Berthe Morisot (1841–95)
Le Corsage Noir, 1878
Oil on canvas, 73 x 65 cm
Le Corsage Noir (The Black Bodice) is a study of light and colour. It depicts a woman in evening-wear seated before an arrangement of flowers and foliage. The woman pictured was a professional model and the gown she wears belonged to the artist, who had worn it to pose for formal studio photographs in c. 1875. Morisot has outlined the dress and stole with light feathery strokes concentrating on the contrasting textures of the dark fabric. Although the composition is set in an interior space, the artist’s keen interest in the effects of light upon various surfaces is apparent.
About the artist
Morisot played an important role in the formation of the Impressionist group. She exhibited at all but one of the group’s exhibitions. Following her marriage to Eugène Manet (brother of Edouard Manet) in 1874, their home became a regular meeting place for Impressionist artists. Morisot enjoyed painting landscapes but after her marriage she concentrated almost exclusively on domestic scenes, depicting the daily activities of middle-class women. This kind of subject matter was considered appropriate for a woman artist belonging to the 'haute bourgeoisie'.