Berthe Morisot, Lady At Her Toilette (1875)
This painting by Berthe Morisot belongs to a popular genre depicting women sitting at their dressing table, or toilette which is the French term which makes me think of perfume (don’t ask me why). It seems related to the voyeuristic genre of paintings of nude ladies bathing or drying themselves. I read a critical passage which explained that in this genre, the mirror would reflect the woman’s image but in Berthe’s painting this expectation is subverted. There is no reflection of the woman. Instead the mirror reflected the cosmetic container and powder puff on her dresser and some flowers. I like that Berthe’s work is subtly subversive. I also fell in love with the colors and impressionistic brushstrokes. Berthe has been called the “most impressionistic of the Impressionists.” This painting had received high critical acclaim.