Art Critique: Le Bercau by Berthe Morisot, 1872

Art of the Week: Le Bercau by Berthe Morisot, 1872
In the painting, “The Cradle” (1872), the artist paints her sister and a baby. A domestic interior with light colours and soft brush strokes exemplify a very feminine image. However, the execution of the impressionist painting clearly demonstrates Morisot’s technical ability and proficiency to capture an everyday scene.

Morisot’s sister sits and observes the infant as it sleeps. The mosquito netting reflects spatial distance, but the sister’s gaze creates a strong connection. The baby’s crib and the mosquito net are painted white and light shadows with hues of baby blue and pink. The sister, by contrast, is wearing a gray and black attire. We can automatically see her due to the surrounding whiteness of the background (window and curtain) and the foreground (the baby).

Morisot’s expertise in painting this everyday scene lets us understand that women’s roles in the home are more than just domestic responsibilities. We are able to see a psychological study through the connection of an infant and a mother. Berthe’s personal image of her family are also relatable and universal to many.

This painting, “The Cradle” was shown at the 1874 Impressionist exhibition —the first woman to exhibit with the group (Musée d’Orsay).


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