Douglas Newby
Architecturally Significant Homes
Horse & Trolly

Domestic Dignity

A female artist maybe appreciates the hard work, good work, important work, and daily chores of the governesses, maids, and other domestic workers serving the middle class families. One gallery of the Berthe Morisot show at the DMA presented paintings depicting the hard work of these women with elegance and almost reverential dignity. I have always loved Impressionist art growing up going to the Art Institute in Chicago. My interest was further enhanced in Dallas by the presence, expertise, and knowledge of Rick Brettell, and of course the wonderful private Impressionist collection of Margaret McDermott. Usually my first stop in a city would be to see their collection of Impressionist paintings. Most of these museums would include an obligatory Berthe Morisot in the Impressionism galleries. It was not until this opening, Berthe Morisot, Woman Impressionist, at the DMA that I began to really appreciate her work. My personal collection of art contains many female artists prompted by visiting my favorite gallery early in my career, Dallas Women’s Co-op which included many female artists whose work is owned by museums across the country. Their art does not have a conspicuous gender point of view or style. The early art of Morisot did. While Gustave Caillebotte , who is also found in most museum Impressionist collections, painted male figures dripping with testosterone, like the Floor Scrapers, or in stiff coats and top hats against the backdrop of an iron bridge, Morisot was able to use thick paint and broad strokes to create soft detail with delicacy and refinement. I can laugh at myself for being so attracted to the drab colors and strong simple lines of Caillebotte and overlooking the talent of Morisot because it was too feminine for my taste. This DMA exhibit changed all that. Seeing a succession of galleries filled with her work as it evolved into the last painting exhibited in the show being compared to Edvard Munch gave me a whole new impression of Berthe Morisot.
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