Landscape at Gennevilliers
(Berthe Morisot)


In the Spring of 1875 Berthe Morisot and her husband Eugène Manet went to stay in Gennevilliers, where the Manet family had owned a property since the beginning of the eighteenth century. The immediate area of the village had remained undeveloped even while the region itself, conveniently situated along the Seine on the outskirts of Paris, had begun to change. Gennevilliers itself was charming and the adjacent hamlet, Le Petit Gennevilliers, boasted only three houses. The advent of the railway in 1851 had made the area more accessible to Parisians and, for the increasingly wealthy middle classes, boating on the Seine and walking in the woods became a popular weekend pastime. The changes in the countryside went hand-in-hand with industrialization; in 1856 four buildings, a landing stage and a railway station were erected at Gennevilliers. In the following years a residential area was developed to house the local factory workers, the population doubling between 1861 and 1881.

Berthe Morisot’s view of the hamlet of Le Petit Gennevilliers in 1875 depicts a rural paradise already corrupted by the presence of encroaching industrialization. A large haystack stands in an open field in which a few spindly trees have been left by the farmer but in the distance we can see smoke from the factories which were beginning to surround Paris. In this work we may observe what the public noted and failed to understand in her work. Alfred de Lostalot wrote in his review of the 1876 Impressionist exhibition, that “given her delicate color and the adroitly daring play of her brush with light, it is a real pity to see this artist give up her work when it is barely sketched because she is so easily satisfied with it.”[1] In these comments he exhibits the failure of so many of the contemporaries critics of impressionism to appreciate that it was the passing effect of light that she sought to capture, rather than an unrealistic ideal. Morisot here captures a moment when the steady march of industrial progress did not yet seem inevitable, a time before the triumph of the machine age when town and country could still exist in seeming harmony. NOTES


12 5/8 x 16 1/8 inches (32 x 41 cm.)
Oil on canvas

PROVENANCE: Camentron Collection; Théodore Duret; Private collection, Paris.


BIBLIOGRAPHY: M. Angouivent, Berthe Morisot, Paris 1933, no. 57;

M. L. Bataille et G. Wildenstein, Berthe Morisot Catalogue des Peintures,
Pastels et Aquarelles, Paris 1961, no. 44, fig. 99 reproduced; A. Clairet, D. Montalant, Y. Rouart, Berthe Morisot catalogue raisonné de l’Oeuvre peint, 1997, Montolivet, no. 44, rep. p. 134. rep. in color p. 322.


EXHIBITIONS: Albi, Musée Toulouse Lautrec, Berthe Morisot, 1958, no. 8. London, JPL Fine Arts, Berthe Morisot, 1990-91, no. 3, reproduced in color. Auvers sur Oise, Chateau d’Auvers, Les Impressionnistes autour de Paris, tableau de banlieue avec peintres

Historical Period
Realism to Impressionism - 1840-1900
1999-An Eye on Nature II: The Gallic Prospect. French Landscape Painting 1785-1900.
Hard back catalogue of the Exhibition held in New York. 195 pages fully illustrated with 37 full colour plates and 65 black and white illustrations (many full page). Forward by Patrick Matthiesen and Guy Stair Sainty. Introduction by Guy Stair Sainty. £35 or $50 inc. p.&p.

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