Berthe Morisot (1841–1895), 'Le Corsage Noir', 1878. Photo © National Gallery of Ireland.
Berthe Morisot (1841–1895), 'Le Corsage Noir', 1878. Photo © National Gallery of Ireland.Credit

Le Corsage Noir by Berthe Morisot (1841-1895)

73 x 65 cm
Oil on canvas
Purchased, 1936

Berthe Morisot exhibited at the first Impressionist exhibition in 1874 and at most of the group’s subsequent shows. That same year she married Edouard Manet’s brother Eugène. With his support, she continued to paint and exhibit professionally throughout her life. Morisot’s paintings typically portray domestic scenes and the activities of middle-class women - the type of subject matter that was considered appropriate for a woman artist belonging to the haute bourgeoisie. 

Le Corsage Noir (the Black Bodice) is one of several portrait-style paintings of fashionable women in interior settings that Morisot produced between 1878 and 1880. It shows a young woman (posed by a professional model) dressed in evening attire. The gown she wears belonged to the artist who had worn it in formal studio photographs in 1875. As the title suggests, Morisot intended this work to be regarded as an Impressionistic exercise in light and colour. The dress, though described as ‘black’, has been painted with feathery strokes of dark blue pigment. This painting remained in the possession of the artist’s daughter until 1936. It is shown hanging in the background of Morisot’s La Coiffure (1894; Museo Nacional de Bella Artes, Buenos Aires).