I'd be the first to admit that I am woefully ignorant about art. I'm not as bad as the character in HANNAH AND HER SISTERS, who only wanted "big" art to fill up his walls. (PromptIng the artist in the movie to scream, "I don't sell my work by the yard!")
If you show me a Van Gogh or a Picasso, I'm pretty sure I can recognize it. But I never took that old Freshman Favorite, Art Appreciation, where you got to see art through the ages on a set of slides. When I began reading the manuscript of Eliabeth Robards' WITH VIOLETS, I knew nothing--and I do mean nothing--about Berthe Morisot. I'd never even heard about her (although Tessa had!), and for that I'm ashamed.
Morisot is now considered one of the first league of impressionist painters. That she was overlooked because she was a woman is, sadly, the truth. She kept pretty impressive company--Manet, Degas, Renoir--and held her own. You might recognize Morisot's work, without knowing it was hers. (I did!)
Elizabeth Robards' novel about Morisot brings this amazing, creative, strong woman wonderfully to life. And what a life! Morisot was "allowed" to work at her art, but it was clear she was expected to become a wife and mother, first and foremost. That she managed to "do it all" in the 19th century is impressive indeed. She held her own in her family, and she more than gained the respect of the members of the Impressionist "boys club".
Morisot's work was part of an exhibition of Women Impressionists this summer in San Francisco. Perhaps some of you saw it during the annual RWA conference? If not, this link shows you some of the terrific work found there. CLICK