Reclining Nude Shepherdess

Berthe Morisot

Bergère nue couchée

Morisot, Berthe

Bourges, 1841 - París, 1895

Reclining Nude Shepherdess, 1891

© Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza

Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection on loan to the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, Madrid.

Oil on canvas

57,5 x 86,4 cm


Artwork history

  • Mr. & Mrs.  Ernest Rouart, París. (Ernest Rouart, born Julie Manet, daughter Berthe Morisot & Eugène Manet)

  • Mr. & Mrs. Julien Rouart, París.

  • Mrs.  Julien Rouart, París

  • Drouot Montaigne, lot 18, November 27, 1997.

  • Private collection, París

  • Sotheby’s Auctions, lot 129, New York, May 11,  2000.

  • Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection


Libre Esthétique, 1ère exposition, Bruselas, n. 321


Berthe Morisot, París, Galerie Durand-Ruel, n. 80


Salon d´Automne, París, n. 36


Berthe Morisot, París, Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, n. 11


Berthe Morisot, París, Musée de l´Orangerie, n. 92


Figures nues d´école française, París, Galerie Charpentier, n. 135


Berthe Morisot, Dieppe, Musée de Dieppe, n. 47


Los XX. El nacimiento de la pintura moderna en Bélgica, Madrid, Fundación Cultural Mapfre Vida, p. 424

2001 - 2002

Mujeres impresionistas. La otra mirada, Bilbao, Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao, n. 65, p. 166


Berthe Morisot 1841 - 1895, Lille, Palais des Beaux-Arts; Martigny, Fondation Pierre Gianadda, n. 133, pp. 393-395. (sólo en Martigny)

2003 - 2004

Nackt! Frauenansichten. Malerabsichten. Aufbruch zur Moderne, Frankfurt, Städelsches Kunstinstitut, n. 5, pp. 112, 298, lám. p. 113

2006 - 2007

Women in Impressionism. From Mythical Feminine to Modern Woman, Copenhague, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, n. 89, pp. 171, 312, lám. p. 170


Berthe Morisot: A Retrospective, Tokio, Seiji Togo Memorial Sompo Japan Museum of Art, n. 44, p. 150, lám. p. 151

2011 - 2012

Berthe Morisot. La pintora impresionista, Madrid, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, n. 41, p. 101, lám.


Berthe Morisot. 1841-1895, París, Musée Marmottan Monet, n. 77, p. 202, lam. p. 203

2012 - 2013

Berthe Morisot. Den store kvindelige impressionist, Charlottenlund, Ordrupgaard, n. 53, p. 82, lám.


Barcelona, París, New York. D´Urgell a O´Keeffe. Col.lecció Carmen Thyssen. Espai Carmen Thyssen, Sant Feliu de Guixols, 2015.

2018 - 2019

Femina Feminae. Muses and the collector. From Piazetta to Delaunay. Museu Carmen Thyssen Andorra. p. 30-31 y p. 106-107.

  • -Aurier, G. A.: ”Berthe Morisot”.  Mercure de France. Junio 1902.

  • -Angoulvent, Monique: Berthe Morisot. París, Editions Albert Morancé, 1933, n. 425.

  • -Bataille, M. L. y Wildenstein, Georges: Catalogue des peintures, pastels et aquarelles de Berthe Morisot. París, Les Beaux-Arts, 1961 , n. 282, fig. 297, lám.

  • -Higonnet, A.: Berthe Morisot, une biographie. París, 1989, p. 220.

  • -Clairet, Alain; Montalant, Delphine y Rouart, Yves: Berthe Morisot 1841-1895. Catalogue Raisonné de l’oeuvre peint. Montolivet, CÉRA-nrs, 1997, n. 285, p. 255, lám.

  • Mujeres impresionistas. La otra mirada. [Exhib. Cat.]. Bray, X. (ed.). Bilbao, Museo de Bellas Artes, 2001-02, p. 166, lám. [Sheet by Brai]

  • -Patry, S., Wilhelm, H. y Patin, S.: Berthe Morisot, 1841-1895. [Exhib. Cat. Lille, Palais des Beaux-Arts – Martigny, Fondation Pierre Gianadda]. París, Réunion des Musées Nationaux, 2002 , pp. 393-395, lám. [Sheet by Wilhelm]

  • Nackt! Frauenansichten. Malerabsichten. Aufbruch zur Moderne. Schulze, Sabine (ed.). [Exhib. Cat. Frankfurt, Städelsches Kunstinstitut, 2003-2004] Ostfildern-Ruit, Hatje Cantz, 2003 , p. 112, lám. p. 113 [Sheet by Eva Mongi-Vollmer]

  • Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza. Arnaldo, Javier (ed.). 2 vols. Madrid, Fundación Colección Thyssen-Bornemisza, 2004, vol. 2, p. 66, lám. p. 67 [Sheet by Ronald Pickvance]

  • -House, John: “Women out of doors”.  Copenhague 2006-2007, pp. 157-187, fig. 135, pp. 170-171.

  • Women in Impressionism. From Mythical Feminine to Modern Woman. Søndegaard, Sidsel Maria (ed.). [Exhib. Cat. 2006-2007]. Copenhague, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, 2006.

  • -Berthe Morisot: A Retrospective. Hugues, Wilhelm (ed.). [Exhib. Cat. Tokio, Seiji Togo Memorial Sompo Japan Musuem of Art]. Tokio, ATP International Inc., 2007, p. 150, lám. p. 151 [Sheet by Hugues Wilhelm]

  • -Mathieu, Marianne… [et al.]: Berthe Morisot. 1841-1895. [Exhib. Cat.]. Hazan – Musée Marmottan Monet, París, 2012, p. 202, lám. p. 203 [Sheet by Emmanuelle Amiot-Saulnier]

  • -Barcelona, París, New York. D´Urgell a O´Keeffe. Col.lecció Carmen Thyssen. Espai Carmen Thyssen, Sant Feliu de Guixols, 2015, pp. 86.

  • – Femina Feminae. Muses and the collector. From Piazetta to Delaunay. Museu Carmen Thyssen Andorra. [Exhib. Cat. Museu Carmen Thyssen Andorra], 2018. P. 30-31 y p.  106-107 [Sheet by Ronald Pickvance]

Expert report

In the spring and summer of 1890 -and again in 1891- Berthe Morisot, with her husband Eugène Manet and her daughter Julie, rented a house called «La maison Blotière» at Mézy-sur-Seine, near Meulan, some fifty kilometres west of Paris. The house had an orchard and a terrace that overlooked the Seine. Morisot painted a few landscapes showing this view. The unspoilt rustic quality of the setting tempted her to try new subject-matter. In particular, she worked extensively on what became her largest and most ambitious composition, two young girls (one of them Julie) picking cherries (Cherry Tree, 1891, Neuilly-sur-Seine, estate of Mr and Mrs Denis Rouart). But she also made several drawings and three different painted versions of a composition showing a young shepherdess reclining in the grass with a goat by her side. A young girl of the village named Gabrièlle Dufous willingly acted as model for the shepherdess (as well as for other works).

Morisot proceeded in time-honoured academic fashion in evolving the final composition. She painted the landscape background (The Seine Valley at Mézy, 1891, La Jolla, Mr and Mrs Norton S. Walbridge); she painted the goat (The Goat Colette, 1891, sale London, 1 December 1971, lot 16); she made a rapidly executed compositional sketch with the reclining shepherdess, her goat, and the view of the Seine in the background (Reclining Shepherdess, 1891, Sale Paris, Galerie Daniel Malingue). Above all, in order to clarify the pose of the reclining shepherdess, she posed the model in the nude, allowing her, however, to retain her head-dress. Such is the Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza painting. The contours and modelling of the young girl’s body are realised in a more contained and compact style than would have been the case in Morisot’s Impressionist painting of the late 1870s and early 1880s. By 1891, she had come to admire greatly Renoir’s treatment of the female nude, first fully announced in The Large Bathers 1885-1887, Philadelphia (PA), Philadelphia Museum of Art. And, interestingly, Renoir visited her at Mézy-sur-Seine during her stays there in 1890 and 1891. Like Renoir at this period, she made preliminary drawings, some of them in her small sketchbook. The final painting, a large work of 64 x 116 cm, concentrates attention on the reclining figure by eliminating sky and distant landscape.

This study of the nude nonetheless shows Morisot achieving her own distinctive pose that has no parallel in Renoir’s oeuvre -nor in that of Degas, whose nudes she also greatly admired. In fact, the notion of placing a young female nude in an outdoor setting echoes several of Corot’s compositions of the 1860s- and the young Berthe Morisot was a pupil of Corot. For her part, this is the most complete and most ambitious study of the female nude that she ever painted. And only one other nude study exists from this last period of her career, where she used the twelve-year old Gabrièlle Dufous in a pastoral idyll, showing the model seated in profile by the bank of a stream. In the Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza painting, the nude loses her shepherdess connotation (even though she retains her headscarf) and becomes a nymph or «source» caught in quiet contemplation by a stretch of water.

Ronald Pickvance