Berthe Morisot: Impressionist and Feminist Art at the Barnes Foundation

by Abby Leedy

There’s a new special exhibit at the Barnes Foundation! Open until late January 2019, the exhibit is called Berthe Morisot: Woman Impressionist and offers a fascinating look at the life and work of one of the only successful woman impressionists of the 19th century.

Berthe Morisot: Woman Impressionist
Berthe Morisot:
Woman Impressionist (courtesy of the Barnes Foundation)

The exhibit features a number of written panels that are super helpful for understanding the historical context of Morisot’s work, as well as all the cool (and revolutionary!) painting techniques she used.

Morisot was a impressionist, which means that her painting style was slightly more “abstract”. The works feature obvious brushstrokes and lose interpretations of figures than her realist counterparts.

In the exhibit, her work his separated into rooms with broad themes. Some rooms feature paintings that were left purposefully “unfinished”, while others feature primarily paintings of parks and other outdoor spaces. Many paintings feature women going about everyday life in the late nineteenth century, including many portraits of women in their rooms or getting ready for the day.

What I found most interesting about the exhibit was the feminist lens through which the work could be viewed. The vast majority of the paintings were of women or young girls, and the exhibit features many quotes and anecdotes from Morisot about what it was like to be a woman artist during the time period. Leaving the exhibit, I felt empowered and inspired by all she had accomplished and created.

While the exhibit is very informative, and her space in art history important, the exhibit is also worth visiting merely because of how beautiful the paintings are. Even her “unfinished” paintings are striking, and all her work features wonderful colors and intriguing subjects (and they would also make really pretty Instagram posts!)

Another super exciting thing happening at the Barnes is their art classes! Some exciting classes include “She Persisted: Pioneering Women Artists Since 1900” and “Spirituals, Integration, and Social Justice: Black American Culture and Albert Barnes”. More information can be found on the Barnes Foundation website, and students can apply for full scholarships for classes at Make sure to mention you are a STAMP pass holder in your application! Applications are due by January 6th for Spring classes.