With refreshing disregard for prior stylistic conventions, Morisot glosses over facial features and dispenses with other descriptive details to present a snapshot glimpse of a modern-day subject. Her paring down to the essentials may be seen as a bold fashion statement of sorts: her sitter sports the latest style of dress and is shown knitting in a garden typical of the period, with a gravel path and flowering roses. The elegant chairs suffice to define the setting as a backyard, which had become a popular fixture of the middle-class household. Morisot probably painted the work in Bougival, where she spent the summers of 1881 to 1884, perhaps enlisting her daughter’s nanny as a model.
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Credit Line:Bequest of Miss Adelaide Milton de Groot (1876-1967), 1967
Inscription: Stamped (lower left): Berthe Morisot
[possibly Galerie E. Druet, Paris, in 1905]; probably Charles Henraux, Paris; possibly Durand-Ruel (by 1924); Adelaide Milton de Groot, New York (by 1936–d. 1967; on loan to MMA from 1936)
Paris. Galerie E. Druet. "Exposition Berthe Morizot [sic]," January–February 1905, no. 4 (as "Jeune femme," probably this picture).
Pittsburgh. Carnegie Institute. "Exhibition of Paintings: Édouard Manet, Pierre Renoir, Berthe Morisot," October 15–December 1, 1924, no. 6 (as "Young Lady Sitting in a Garden," lent by Durand-Ruel, possibly this picture).
New York. Wildenstein & Co., Inc. "Berthe Morisot," November 3–December 10, 1960, no. 37 (as "Jeune fille cousant dans un jardin," lent by Miss Adelaide Milton de Groot).
Brunswick, Maine. Bowdoin College. 1967, no catalogue? (lent by Adelaide Milton de Groot).
Omaha. Joslyn Art Museum. "Mary Cassatt Among the Impressionists," April 10–June 1, 1969, no. 37.
Birmingham Museum of Art. "Birmingham Festival of Arts Honoring France," March 16–April 12, 1973, no cat. number.
Martigny. Fondation Pierre Gianadda. "Berthe Morisot," June 19–November 19, 2002, no. 71.
Little Rock. Arkansas Arts Center. "Art and the White House: Presidential Selections 1960–2000," November 19, 2004–January 23, 2005, unnum. brochure.
Paris. Musée Marmottan. "Berthe Morisot 1841–1895," March 8–July 29, 2012, no. 45 (as "Jeune femme cousant dans le jardin" and dated 1883).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Public Parks, Private Gardens: Paris to Provence," March 12–July 29, 2018, unnumbered cat.
Dallas Museum of Art. "Berthe Morisot, Woman Impressionist," February 24–May 26, 2019, no. 1.
Paris. Musée d'Orsay. "Berthe Morisot," June 18–September 22, 2019, no. 51 (as "Jeune femme cousant au jardin").
Basel. Fondation Beyeler. "Close-Up: Berthe Morisot, Mary Cassatt, Paula Modersohn-Becker, Lotte Laserstein, Frida Kahlo, Alice Neel, Marlene Dumas, Cindy Sherman, Elizabeth Peyton," September 19, 2021–January 2, 2022, unnumbered cat. (ill. p. 44 [color]).
Harry B. Wehle. "A Loan of Paintings." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 31 (October 1936), p. 209.
Berthe Morisot. Exh. cat., Wildenstein & Co., Inc. New York, 1960, unpaginated, no. 37, ill., mistakenly publishes provenance, exhibitions, and bibliography for another painting (Bataille and Wildenstein 1961, no. 158).
M[arie].-L[ouise]. Bataille and G[eorges]. Wildenstein. Berthe Morisot: Catalogue des peintures, pastels, et aquarelles. Paris, 1961, p. 32, no. 142 bis, fig. 812.
Katharine Baetjer. European Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art by Artists Born Before 1865: A Summary Catalogue. New York, 1995, p. 485, ill. p. 486.
Alain Clairet, Delphine Montalant, and Yves Rouart. Berthe Morisot, 1841–1895: Catalogue raisonné de l'œuvre peint. Montolivet, 1997, p. 184, no. 144, ill., mistakenly states that it was exhibited at Wildenstein, New York, in 1936.
Hugues Wilhelm inBerthe Morisot, 1841–1895. Ed. Sylvie Patry, Hugues Wilhelm, and Sylvie Patin. Exh. cat., Palais des Beaux-Arts de Lille. Paris, 2002, pp. 260–61, ill. (color), dates it 1883; compares it to Cassatt's works of the early 1880s.
Marianne Mathieu inBerthe Morisot 1841–1895. Exh. cat., Musée Marmottan Monet. Paris, 2012, pp. 138, 142–43, no. 45, ill. (color) [English ed., 2012], states with this painting Morisot pushed her technique to the "edge of 'abstraction'" and calls it one of her most "avant-garde works"; notes that with the sitter's facial features nearly erased, we cannot know her identity and that the garden has not been identified; emphasizes its true subject as the study of light; notes that Morisot's attraction to knitting and sewing as subjects was in keeping with the limitation on her interests to pastimes of young women "from good families," as opposed to true images of the working world.
Colta Ives. Public Parks, Private Gardens: Paris to Provence. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2018, pp. 119–20, 186, fig. 117 (color), compares it to Cassatt's "Lydia Crocheting in the Garden at Marly" (1880, The Met 65.184).
Sylvie Patry inBerthe Morisot: Woman Impressionist. Exh. cat., Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec. New York, 2018, pp. 15, 233, no. 1, ill. p. 17 (color).
Janet Whitmore. "Review of 'Berthe Morisot: Woman Impressionist'." Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide 18 (Spring 2019), fig. 12 (color) [https://doi.org/10.29411/ncaw.2019.18.1.13], calls its sketchy quality and flattened, decorative composition "quite experimental for 1883"; notes the ambiguity of both the work underway and the class of the sitter.
Sylvie Patry inBerthe Morisot. Ed. Sylvie Patry. Exh. cat., Musée d'Orsay. Paris, 2019, pp. 13, 293, no. 51, ill. p. 111 (color).
This work has occasionally been confused with A Woman and Child in a Garden, a painting of about 1883–84 that was formerly in the collection of Morisot's cousin Gabriel Thomas, which was acquired by the National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh (NG 2269), in 1964. The Edinburgh picture was included in the exhibition "Réunion d'oeuvres par Berthe Morisot (1841–1895)," held at Galerie Marcel Bernheim, Paris, from June 20 until July 8, 1922, as no. 37 ("Jeune femme cousant"), as well as in "Berthe Morisot (1841–1895)," held at the Musée de l'Orangerie, Paris, in the summer of 1941, as no. 50 ("Jeune femme cousant"); the MMA painting did not feature in either exhibition. The painting in Edinburgh was published in Bataille and Wildenstein 1961 as no. 158 ("Jeune fille cousant dans un jardin") and Clairet, Montalant, Rouart 1997 as no. 161 ("Jeune fille cousant dans un jardin," with the mistaken inclusion of details that pertain exclusively to the MMA picture, notably de Groot in the provenance and New York 1960 under Exhibitions).
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