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Impressionism’s ‘forgotten woman’ shines in new Paris show

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The first major show of Berthe Morisot’s paintings in France in nearly 80 years puts the forgotten woman of Impressionism back at the centre of the movement she helped found.

One damning review of the first exhibition by the group that would revolutionise art blasted that it was no more than “five or six lunatics of which one is a woman …[whose] feminine grace is maintained amid the outpourings of a delirious mind.”

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That 1874 show included such soon-to-be art giants as Monet and Manet, whose brother Eugene later married Morisot.

But after her early death at 54, when she caught pneumonia after nursing their daughter through the illness, Morisot slipped into the shadow of her more famous male peers like Renoir and Degas.

Now a new show at the Musee d’Orsay, the first dedicated to her work by a major Paris institution since 1941, puts Morisot back in the rightful place as one of the most startling and innovative artists of her time.

Curator Sylvie Patry said Morisot’s work was always seen through the lens of the male artists who taught her like the great landscape painter Corot, or those she worked alongside like Manet or Renoir.

– ‘Giving her back her place’ –

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“We had to clear away some cliches about the woman artist and give her back her place at the heart of Impressionism,” Patry added.

The show highlights how radical she actually was.

Like Degas and the American painter Mary Cassatt — who suffered similarly at the hands of art historians for decades — Morisot preferred intimate portraits to the luminous landscapes that the group pioneered.

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The Paris show is full of her penetrating and often ambiguous portraits of women, such as “In The Cradle” where a mother sits over her sleeping baby.

Experts say that there is often “more than meets the eye” to her pictures, with the mother peering at her child in a way which could hint at tiredness, boredom or even regret as much as love.

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Patry said that when Morisot painted her female models like her sister Edma she was looking to capture “what was happening in that moment”.

She was obsessed with the “passing of time” and her energetic, fast style which so impressed Manet was about suggesting more than it was describing.

– Radically modern –

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This very modern sensibility included daring to leave some of her works so they seemed to look “unfinished”.

At the time critics attacked this, believing that it showed a female hesitancy and a lack of confidence.

But Patry insisted that it was part of her fascination with the fleeting nature of life and her own determination that it was she as an artist who decided when a work was finished.

The world she painted was mostly the private, intimate one of fashionable Parisian ladies: domestic scenes and tasks, children and flowers, and the snatched pleasures of holiday resorts.

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Nor was she afraid to show the boredom of her subjects.

Morisot was also lucky to be married to Eugene Manet, a minor painter, who did not take umbrage at her talent or her friendships with his brother Edouard, or Degas, Renoir, Monet and Mallarme.

Tellingly, the largest ever retrospective of her work was organised just after her early death in 1895 by her Impressionist peers who so admired and respected her.

Unlike theirs, which are scattered among the world’s great museums, the 70 Morisot works in the Musee d’Orsay exhibition — which runs until September 22 — mostly come from private collections.

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Running alongside the show, the museum has organised a week-long itinerary called “Women, art and power” to highlight the work of female artists in its vast collection of 19th-century French art.


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Here are 7 key moments from the Democratic primary debate

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Top Democratic candidates for president gathered on Wednesday night in Georgia to debate their respective qualifications for office, all under the shadow of ongoing impeachment hearings in the House of Representatives.

But while they took the time to address President Donald Trump’s conduct and wrongdoing, they didn’t let his issues dominate the night. They addressed a wide range of topics and managed to largely avoid the circular fights that have bogged down many previous debate

Here are seven moments that stood out:

1. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) addressed the central role black voters have in the Democratic Party.

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Google tightens political ads policy in effort to stop abuse

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Google on Wednesday updated how it handles political ads as online platforms remain under pressure to avoid being used to spread misleading information intended to influence voters.

The internet company said its rules already ban any advertiser, including those with political messages, from lying in ads. But it is making its policy more clear and adding examples of how that prohibits content such as doctored or manipulated images or video.

"It's against our policies for any advertiser to make a false claim -- whether it's a claim about the price of a chair or a claim that you can vote by text message, that election day is postponed, or that a candidate has died," Google ads product management vice president Scott Spencer said in an online post.

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Pope Francis begins Asia tour with visit to Buddhist temple

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Pope Francis will visit one of Thailand's famed gilded temples Thursday to meet the supreme Buddhist patriarch, on the first full day of his Asian tour aimed at promoting religious harmony.

The 82-year-old pontiff is on his first visit to Buddhist majority Thailand, where he will spend four days before setting off to Japan.

His packed schedule a day after touching down in Bangkok includes a meeting with the king and the prime minister before leading an evening mass expected to draw tens of thousands of people from across Thailand, where just over 0.5 percent of the population is Catholic.

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