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Women of the French Impressionist Movement

The "First Ladies" of the French Impressionist movement were undeniably the Frenchwoman Berthe Morisot (1841-95) and the American expatriate Mary Cassatt (1944-1926). They were also, by reason of default, the "second," "third" and "fourth"-tiered women of Impressionism as well - for there were no other female Impressionists of note, despite the fact that one or two other women had associations and hangings with the movement's acknowledged inner-circle of males: Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919), Claude Monet (1840-1926), Camille Pisarro (1830-1903), Edgar Degas (1834-1917) and (by others' judgement if not his own) Edouard Manet (1832-83) (Read 229). By default or not, Morisot and - to a much larger degree - Cassatt stand firmly in the midst of that company of gentlemen because they were good at their art, not by any condescension on the part of either critics or compatriots - or contemporary "inclusionist" sentiment. Indeed, both enjoyed more commercial success in their lifetimes than such Impressionists as Sisley and Pisarro, both of whom suffered the classic artist's fate of being "discovered" by the commercial interests of the art world after their deaths. The Impressionist movement, as is common knowledge, led the way into a 20th Century art milieu in which revolution and experimentation have become as much the standard today as classicism and re-creation were one hundred and twenty years ago. Mary Cassatt and Berthe Morisot, who would have been denied a place in the earlier hierarchy, joined the "revolutionary" wave and were two of its beneficiaries.

It is difficult to imagine now, but once art mattered. Just as television and movies currently set the standard for recreation in supposedly literate societies where many purport to read but few take the time to glance beneath the headlines, the arts of painting and sculpture held a recreational fascination for the public of leisure in mid-19th Century Paris. There were a...

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Women of the French Impressionist Movement. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 17:38, May 24, 2020, from