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Video transcript

[Music] we're at the Musee d'Orsay and we're looking at a painting by Burt more so the cradle this is a lovely painting of a baby in a cradle being watched over by her new mother for later work they some of the most radical painting in its extraordinary brushwork but this is an early Candice this is exhibited at the impressionist exhibition of 1874 this is an exhibition of the artist who renounced where they exhibited independently from the official art exhibitions in Paris but sadly this painting was little noticed by the press and the public and remained unsolved for several years and in the family till 1930 it was extremely difficult to be a female painter at this time and so it's not surprising that her work received little critical attention there were some female painters that were successful I'm thinking about Rosa Bowen or for example but for the most part especially women of Morris's class a woman of her level of affluence would have a quite restricted environment in which they could freely move women were expected to largely exist in the domestic sphere and that's what we see in the work of so many women artists at the end of the 19th century a lack of access to the more typical subjects of modern life of cafes and bars this was the space that they had access to and that's what they painted and maureesa would go on to paint many beautiful scenes of family life but this one is especially poignant what we're seeing is more so sister looking over her daughter and is a wonderful intimacy the child is angelic draped under that gauzy net and Morris's sister looks down at her with a gentle concern that is really moving and beautiful it recalls for me images of Mary holding the Christ child but in those cases Mary holds the Christ child on her lap here we have a very modern domestic setting with a cradle and a lovely interior in the background with a curtain and we have a sense of a modern woman and modern dress for lowered eyelids the chin that rests on the hand the other arm that comes forward foreshortened across the cradle suggests a contemplation about the serious responsibilities of motherhood but also the incredible affection of motherhood the fact that this is seem worthy as a subject for a painting is also a reflection of the growth of the idea of the middle-class family in the 19th century that the domestic space was a protected space an insular space and I think we see that here not only is the child in developed in that gauzy material but Morisot sister herself is enclosed on one side of her she has the diagonal of that gauze above another diagonal formed by the curtain and to the left the edge of the painting so she is also rather locked into this domestic space I want to spend just a moment looking at the brushwork although there are some fine linear passages that are almost drawn for instance the fine locks of hair that fall down the woman's temple much of the brushwork is quite loose and anticipates more as those later style look for example at the pink fringe at the edge of the netting or the way in which the collar of the woman is rendered is a beautiful looseness here it shows more of those extraordinary facility with paint virtuosity is what comes to mind when I think of morisot and the handling of paint I notice it also in the white touches of paint that form the top of the curtain or even in her sleeves those quick circular movements of paint that suggest the texture of her dress and then there's choices that more so makes in terms of where our attention is going to fall look at the way in which the woman's fingers are painted so flatly the upper parts of the fingers which are foreshortened are virtually not articulated at all all the Chiefs chosen to give us is the flat plains of the fingers that are exposed directly to us I love those fingers there's slight sense of fidget eNOS unfortunately I think we still have a tendency to discount images of mothers and children to see them nostalgically and sentimentally and if we look around the galleries if the door say almost every painting is by a man more so is an exception and if we look at auction prices we look at the art market female artists are still not given their due [Music]