When asked when they find their children most charming, many parents answer that it is when the children sleeping. The answer has many connotations. Berthe Morisot’s painting “The Cradle,” hailed as one of the most outstanding pieces of Impressionist Art, captures a woman gazing at her sleeping child. Morisot was the only female artist that took part in the first Impressionist Exhibition. Ever since her first exhibiting at the Salon de Paris at the age of 23, she won the Salon de Paris six times before the first Impressionist Exhibition held in 1874.
The model of the young mother depicted in the picture is the artist’s older sister, Edma, who worked as an artist before her marriage. At that time, it was very difficult for women to become artists or receive professional art eduction, but the Morisot sisters were raised in a wealthy family so they had art lessons. The sisters worked together for almost 10 years until Edma gave up her career when she married and had children.
The sisters exchanged letters over the years. Edma sincerely hoped that her sister would fulfill her part, to which Berthe promised to do so. Berthe actually did continue her career after marriage. She took part in the Impressionist Exhibition every year, except for the year she gave birth, and painted
throughout her life. As she did not have the opportunity to learn historic paintings, she sought subject matters from her personal experience, modeling family and friends.
“The Cradle,” her representative artwork, was unveiled at the first Impressionist Exhibition, but was not properly recognized on the grounds that it was created by a female artist. It did not get any attention nor criticism and was not even sold. Eventually the painting had been stored at Edma’s house before it was purchased by the Louvre in 1930. “The Cradle” has earned due recognition it deserved in 58 years.