Young Woman Seated on a Sofa

Berthe Morisot (French, Bourges 1841–1895 Paris)

ca. 1879
Oil on canvas
31 3/4 x 39 1/4 in. (80.6 x 99.7 cm)
Credit Line:
Partial and Promised Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Douglas Dillon, 1992
Accession Number:
  • Gallery Label

    At about the time that Morisot depicted this model in her Paris apartment, an admiring critic wrote: "she grinds flower petals onto her palette, in order to spread them later on her canvas with airy, witty touches…producing something vital, fine, and charming." The painter was then at her apogee, having melded the bravura brushwork adopted from her mentor and brother-in-law, Édouard Manet, with her own opalescent tints. Born into an upper-middle-class family, Morisot diverged from societal norms when she established herself as a professional artist, but was highly successful, participating in the official Salons and in seven of the eight Impressionist exhibitions.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: Signed (lower left): Berthe Morisot

  • Provenance

    Léon Clapisson, Paris (by 1882–92; sold on April 21, 1892, for Fr 1,500 to Durand-Ruel); [Durand-Ruel, Paris, 1892–95; stock no. 2134; sold in January 1895 to New York branch]; [Durand-Ruel, New York, 1895–96; stock no. 1332; sold on June 16, 1896 to Paris branch]; [Durand-Ruel, Paris, 1896–at least 1921; stock no. 3860; to Durand-Ruel]; Durand-Ruel private collection, Paris (by 1941–at least 1958); [Sam Salz, New York]; Mr. and Mrs. Douglas Dillon, New York (by 1976)

  • Exhibition History

    Paris. Durand-Ruel. "Exposition Berthe Morisot," April 23–May 10, 1902, no. 58 (as "Jeune femme assise," possibly this picture).

    London. Grafton Galleries. "Pictures by Boudin, Cézanne, Degas, Manet...," January–February 1905, no. 158 (lent by Durand-Ruel, Paris).

    Paris. Grand Palais des Champs-Élysées. "Salon d'automne," October 1–22, 1907, no. 161 (as "Interieur," lent by Durand-Ruel).

    Paris. Galerie Marcel Bernheim. "Réunion d'œuvres par Berthe Morisot (1841–1895)," June 20–July 8, 1922, no. 43.

    Paris. Bernheim-Jeune. "Exposition d'œuvres de Berthe Morisot," May 6–24, 1929, no. 18 (lent by Durand-Ruel).

    Paris. Galerie Durand-Ruel. "Quelques oeuvres importantes de Manet à Van Gogh," February–March 1932, no. 30.

    Brussels. Palais des Beaux-Arts. "L'Impressionnisme," June 15–September 29, 1935, no. 48 (lent by Durand-Ruel, Paris).

    Belgrade. Musée du Prince Paul. "La peinture française au XIXe siècle," 1939, no. 85 (lent by Durand-Ruel, Paris).

    Paris. Musée de l'Orangerie. "Berthe Morisot (1841–1895)," Summer 1941, no. 25 (lent by Durand-Ruel).

    Paris. Bernheim-Jeune. "Exposition de la femme, 1800–1930," April–June 1948, no. 65.

    Copenhagen. Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek. "Berthe Morisot, 1841–1895," August 20–September 18, 1949, no. 16 (lent by Durand-Ruel, Paris).

    London. Matthiesen Gallery. "Berthe Morisot: An Exhibition of Paintings & Drawings," 1950, no. 17.

    Musée de Dieppe. "Exposition Berthe Morisot," July 5–September 30, 1957, no. 16 (lent by Durand-Ruel, Paris).

    Albi. Musée Toulouse-Lautrec. "Exposition Berthe Morisot (1841–1895)," July 1–September 15, 1958, no. 14 (lent by Durand-Ruel, Paris).

    New York. Wildenstein & Co., Inc.. "Berthe Morisot," November 3–December 10, 1960, no. 18.

    Paris. Musée Jacquemart-André. "Berthe Morisot," 1961, no. 25.

    London. Wildenstein & Co., Inc.. "Berthe Morisot, 1841–1895," January 18–February 11, 1961, no. 14.

    Vevey, Switzerland. Musée Jenisch. "Berthe Morisot," June 24–September 3, 1961, no. 18.

    Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. "The Masterpieces of French Painting from The Metropolitan Museum of Art: 1800–1920," February 4–May 6, 2007, no. 96.

    Berlin. Neue Nationalgalerie. "Französische Meisterwerke des 19.Jahrhunderts aus dem Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York," June 1–October 7, 2007, unnumbered cat.

    Paris. Musée Marmottan Monet. "Berthe Morisot," March 8–July 29, 2012, no. 27.

  • References

    Léon Clapisson. Collection de tableaux de Léon Clapisson – commencée en mars 1879. 1879–94 [private collection; published in Distel 1997], in this handwritten inventory of his collection, calls it "Jeune femme grise (or assise)" and gives purchase price as Fr 1,000.

    Léon Clapisson. Catalogue des tableaux de la collection de Mr L. Clapisson 1882. 1879–94 [private collection; published in Distel 1997], in this handwritten inventory of his collection, calls it "Jeune femme assise sur un canapé" and gives purchase price as Fr 1,000.

    Camille Mauclair. The French Impressionists (1860–1900). London, [1903], p. 153, ill.

    Léonce Bénédite. "Of Women Painters in France." Women Painters of the World, from the Time of Caterina Vigri, 1413–1463, to Rosa Bonheur and the Present Day. London, 1905, ill. p. 211, calls it "Portrait of a Young Woman Seated".

    Roger Marx. "Les femmes peintres et l'impressionisme. — Berthe Morisot." Gazette des beaux-arts 38 (December 1, 1907), p. 503, ill.

    Vittorio Pica. "Artisti contemporanei: Berthe Morisot — Mary Cassatt." Emporium 26 (July 1907), p. 11, ill.

    Vittorio Pica. Gl'impressionisti francesi. Bergamo, 1908, p. 163, ill.

    Charles Louis Borgmeyer. The Master Impressionists. Chicago, 1913, p. 236, ill., incorrectly states that it was exhibited at the Galerie Manzi in 1912.

    Quelques oeuvres importantes de Manet à Van Gogh. Exh. cat., Galerie Durand-Ruel. Paris, 1932, p. 14, no. 30, ill. p. 7, call it "Jeune femme assise" and date it 1882.

    Berthe Morisot (1841–1895). Exh. cat., Musée de l'Orangerie. Paris, 1941, p. 8, no. 25, ill., dates it 1879.

    Exposition de la femme: 1800–1930. Exh. cat., Bernheim-Jeune. 1948, p. 30, no. 65, dates it 1882.

    Denis Rouart. Berthe Morisot, 1841–1895. Paris, 1948, unpaginated, no. 28, ill., dates it 1879.

    Berthe Morisot, 1841–1895. Exh. cat., Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek. Copenhagen, 1949, p. 12, no. 16, dates it 1879.

    Denis Rouart. Berthe Morisot: An Exhibition of Paintings & Drawings. Exh. cat., Matthiesen Gallery. 1950, pp. 4, 11, no. 17, pl. IV, dates it 1879.

    Exposition Berthe Morisot. Exh. cat., Musée de Dieppe. Dieppe, 1957, p. 2, no. 16, ill., dates it 1879.

    Exposition Berthe Morisot (1841–1895). Exh. cat., Musée Toulouse-Lautrec. Albi, 1958, p. 27, no. 14, pl. VII, dates it 1879.

    Jerome Mellquist. "Berthe Morisot." Apollo 70 (December 1959), p. 158, fig. 1.

    M[arie].-L[ouise]. Bataille and G[eorges]. Wildenstein. Berthe Morisot: Catalogue des peintures, pastels, et aquarelles. Paris, 1961, pp. 9, 28, no. 78, pl. 44., as in the Clapisson collection; date it 1879 and provide some exhibition information.

    "An Impressionist who Loved Children: Berthe Morisot." Illustrated London News 238 (January 21, 1961), p. 107, ill., comments that it is an example of the artist's technique of using free brushstrokes in different directions.

    Berthe Morisot. Exh. cat., Musée Jenisch. Vevey, Switzerland, 1961, p. 8, no. 18, dates it 1879.

    Charles F. Stuckey in Charles F. Stuckey and William P. Scott. Berthe Morisot, Impressionist. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Art, Washington. New York, 1987, pp. 78, 80, fig. 51, dates it 1878–79, noting the difficulty in dating works from this period, but remarks that the balcony setting with venetian blinds corresponds to those in her avenue Victor Hugo apartment, found in this and "Behind the Blinds," both of which are compared to Millais's "Hearts are Trumps" (Tate Britain, London) of 1878.

    Gary Tinterow in "Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 1991–1992." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 50 (Fall 1992), p. 49, ill. (color), remarks that the artist was at her apogee when she painted this model in her Paris apartment; comments that she had melded Manet's bravura brushwork with her own opalescent palette.

    Alain Clairet, Delphine Montalant, and Yves Rouart. Berthe Morisot, 1841–1895: Catalogue raisonné de l'œuvre peint. Montolivet, 1997, p. 151, no. 78, ill.

    Anne Distel in Colin B. Bailey. Renoir's Portraits: Impressions of an Age. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa. New Haven, 1997, pp. 83, 353, identifies it as a work included in two inventories of Léon Clapisson's collection.

    Sylvie Patry in Berthe Morisot, 1841–1895. Exh. cat., Palais des Beaux-Arts de Lille. Martigny, 2002, p. 186.

    Charles Harrison. Painting the Difference: Sex and Spectator in Modern Art. Chicago, 2005, p. 133, fig. 98, observes that the young woman has "the aspect of a particular known individual, while the space that opens up behind her has the specificity of a familiar location".

    Masterpieces of European Painting, 1800–1920, in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2007, pp. 150, 286–87, no. 139, ill. (color and black and white).

    Gary Tinterow in The Masterpieces of French Painting from The Metropolitan Museum of Art: 1800–1920. Exh. cat., Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. New York, 2007, pp. 134, 243–44, no. 96, ill. (color and black and white).

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History