Let’s continue our journey to discover the masterpieces in augmented reality of Artinside Museum, returning to the first Pavilion dedicated to everyday life. Now, take a step forward and head towards the fourth room, which houses a selection of works portraying individuals enjoying moments of leisure or engaging in study.
To access this fourth room of the first pavilion, simply touch the fourth panel in the augmented reality menu. Once inside, hold your device in front of your eyes and look around: explore the space to your right, behind you, and to your left. At this point, I presume you have become familiar with navigating within the virtual rooms of Artinside Museum. If you need a detailed guide on how to move around the virtual museum in AR, I recommend checking out one of our previous articles that explains this procedure. If you’ve missed any of the previous information, you can click on the images below to quickly access the relevant articles before continuing with your reading.
🖼️ Pavilion: First Pavilion. Everyday Life
🏛️ Room: Fourth Room. Learning and Leisure Entertainment
📍Location: Fourth Painting (clockwise)
🎨 Artwork: “Reading” by Berthe Morisot
Once inside the fourth room of the first Pavilion, let’s proceed inside to closely admire the painting positioned in the fourth spot, moving clockwise. We are faced with a painting measuring approximately 45 cm in height by 70 cm in length: Berthe Morisot’s “Reading”. This artwork depicts a tranquil corner of a meadow, bathed in the warmth of summer sun, where a young woman is engrossed in reading.
The woman is comfortably seated on the grass, atop a white sheet dotted with small red flowers, completely absorbed in reading a book with a blue cover. She wears a white dress adorned with numerous tiny flowers, along with a black bow on her chest that echoes the colors of her headwear, which is white and black, adorned with a green veil cascading over her shoulders.
As you approach the image using your device, you will notice that the headwear is rendered with quick and incisive brushstrokes, while the woman’s eyes are cast downward, engrossed in flipping through the pages of the book she holds in her hands. Take a moment to appreciate the details of her dress and the sheet she’s seated on.
The artist employed quick, brief touches of color, creating a vibrant surface that masterfully captures the ephemeral quality of light, following the typical style of Impressionism. However, we will delve more deeply into this aspect later. For now, let’s focus on identifying the woman portrayed in this artwork.
The young woman engrossed in reading is Edma, the sister of Berthe Morisot, the artist who expertly painted this captivating work. Edma wasn’t merely a privileged model for Berthe Morisot; she was also her most intimate confidante and sincere friend.
Together with Edma, Berthe Morisot nurtured a passion for painting and embarked on an artistic journey. At the tender age of 16, Berthe was sent, alongside her sister, to the studio of the painter Alphonse Chocarne to receive valuable painting lessons. Subsequently, the two sisters dedicated themselves to art, working side by side, until Edma’s marriage in 1868. This event marked their physical separation but did nothing to diminish the deep emotional bond between them.
Following Edma’s marriage, which marked their first prolonged separation, the sisters commenced a dense and regular correspondence to bridge the physical distance. In a letter dated March 15, 1869, Edma affectionately wrote to Berthe, “I am often with you, my dear Berthe. In my thoughts, I see you in the studio, and I wish I could escape, even just for a quarter of an hour, to breathe the air in which you have lived for so many years.”
It was this intense relationship of mutual support between the two sisters that allowed Berthe to overcome the social obstacles and limitations imposed by the behavior expected of women during that era, enabling her to pursue her artistic goals. In the 19th century, gaining professional recognition as a female artist was a formidable challenge, but Berthe found in Edma an indispensable emotional and professional pillar.
The correspondence between the two sisters provides profound insight into the challenges that Berthe Morisot faced in balancing her artistic passion with the social duties imposed on her gender.
It is essential to remember that Berthe came from a liberal and cultured family environment. Her father, a high-ranking government official, provided her with a private studio and specialized tutors, while her mother created a domestic setting where artists, writers, and musicians could gather and exchange ideas. This intellectual and creative atmosphere played a fundamental role in shaping her artistic career and the sensibilities of both her and her sister. To fully understand the formative journey of this remarkable female painter, let’s further explore the details.
Berthe Morisot found herself navigating an art world that significantly hindered women’s access. The École des Beaux-Arts, the most prestigious artistic institution, remained virtually closed to aspiring female artists until 1897, long after Berthe had begun to forge her artistic path. Nevertheless, despite this barrier, she managed to develop her artistic talent under the guidance of masters like Geoffrey-Alphonse Chócarne and Joseph Guichard. Additionally, she dedicated time to studying the works of great masters such as Raphael and Rubens at the Louvre.
Camille Corot, an influential painter of the era, played a significant role in steering Berthe Morisot toward en plein air painting, the art of painting outdoors in direct contact with nature. This innovative approach opened a window to the world that transcended classical and romantic conventions, allowing Berthe to explore new artistic directions.
You should know that at the beginning of her career, Berthe Morisot exhibited her works at the Salon, an official exhibition sponsored by the emperor, held annually, featuring around 2500 works selected by elder members of the Academy, often with conservative tastes. Female artists were limited to subjects considered “appropriate,” such as portraying the beauty of nature, scenes of children at play, and portraits characterized by light and bright colors.
In 1868, the sisters Edma and Berthe were copying a painting by Rubens at the Louvre when they met Édouard Manet. This encounter proved pivotal in Berthe Morisot’s artistic journey. Manet was deeply impressed by Berthe, describing her as a “reserved girl with a low, slender voice, eyes black and deep, a lover of fashion and the latest trends, and a passionate reader of period novels.”
The friendship and mentorship of Édouard Manet had a significant impact on Berthe Morisot’s artistic career. Thanks to Manet, Berthe was introduced to a circle of artists who would revolutionize the course of art history.
At the age of 33, Berthe Morisot married Édouard Manet’s brother, becoming Manet’s sister-in-law. Of this marriage, she wrote, “I have found a good man, an honest one, and I am sure he loves me sincerely. After living for so long chasing chimera, I have begun to live a real life.”
Direct your attention to the bright brushstrokes composing the landscape, dominated by shades of green and ochre. Shift your gaze to the upper right corner of the painting, where a cart is traveling on a dusty road, outlined by a swift stroke of light gray. It’s clear that both the driver, the animal, and even the cart itself are represented only through rudimentary color forms, following the characteristic impressionist style.
This work represents a fascinating example of Berthe Morisot’s impressionist art. Artists like her focused on capturing the momentary impression, visual sensation, and fleeting atmosphere, rather than seeking to represent precise details or exact forms. This painting perfectly embodies these principles.
Take a moment to observe how color suggests the presence of an elegant fan left on the grass to the left of the reader, while an upturned green parasol seems to hide amid the tall grass on the right of the young woman.
The image of Edma, captured in a moment of tranquility, exemplifies the impressionist artists’ interest in everyday life and fleeting moments. Berthe Morisot’s choice to portray her sister in a moment of peaceful reflection goes beyond mere physical representation; it celebrates inner peace and contemplation. This artwork captures a moment of serenity and comfort as Edma loses herself in reading a book in the garden, far from the distractions of modern life.
This image reflects Morisot’s deep interest in the lives of women of her time and her extraordinary ability to convey emotions and thoughts through her painting.
When was the last time you found yourself alone in a beautiful garden, reading a book? Does this painting, admired in its augmented reality splendor, inspire a sense of serenity or prompt you to reflect on solitude?
Share your thoughts and comments about your augmented reality experience by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Your observations may find a place in upcoming articles in “The Artebinaria Gazette.”
Now that we have discovered some details of the artwork together, all that’s left for you to do is to download the Artinside Museum app and admire the artwork in augmented reality right before your eyes.