MORISOT Berthe (1841 ; 1895)
Fillette au jersey bleu
toile (pastel) H. 100 cm ; l. 81 cm
legs Rouart Thérèse (testateur) (1996)
Very much in fashion in the 18th century, pastel made a strong comeback after 1850. Berthe Morisot was introduced to the medium at a tender age by her teacher Geoffroy Alphonse Chocarne. She was also probably encouraged by a cousin of Delacroix and friend of the Morisots, the painter Léon Riesener, who made a name for himself as a pastelist at the Salon. Her brotherin-law, Édouard Manet, likewise steered her in that direction, offering her a box of pastels at Christmas in 1879. Berthe Morisot turned to chalk pastel when she undertook Little Girl in Blue Jersey in 1886. Sporting the dress that lends its name to the picture, Julie is depicted in the sitting room of the family’s Rue de Villejust townhouse, seated on a swan neck lounger, with a rocking horse in front of her. In keeping with tradition, Berthe Morisot plays off the powdery effect of the chalk pastel to reproduce the velvety texture of the skin. She shows greater originality in her wielding of the chalk pastel like a pencil, in other words in sketching out the details of the girl’s dress, the lounger, and the background plants in broad outlines. Through its dimensions and free and easy workmanship, Little Girl in Blue Jersey is one of the artist’s most ambitious pastels.