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Berthe Morisot: Shaping Impressionism, Dulwich Picture Gallery REVIEW

She exhibited at all the Impressionist shows bar one (when she had just given birth) and was married to Eduard Manet's brother, so both as an artist and for a female perspective on a movement, Berthe Morisot is peerless.

Her paintings are delicate but free and extraordinarily beautiful in their own right. Necessarily, given her sex and status, many are of women in formal dress, or domestic scenes, including several of her beloved only daughter. There is a moving picture of Julie with M Manet's dog, shortly after his premature death.

The exhibition makes a good case that her work was influenced by her exposure to 18th century English artists during her visits to Britain, not least on her honeymoon, spent in the Isle of Wight. There is a lovely painting of her new husband at the window, a blustery Solent behind him. And as a working mother (albeit a wealthy one) in a man's world, she was ahead of her time. So there is lots to enchant and engage.

Although it is not a 'family exhibition' per se, there are 'Family Activity' pointers as you go round that are useful at eliciting responses, 'Look closely at one of the paintings and choose a word describing how they make you feel. What can you see that makes you feel like that?'; or to make children think about the constraints she faced, 'Morisot was not meant to be allowed to go out and paint alone, because it wasn't seen as the right thing to do at the time. Discuss... how this would make you feel'.

And, hurrah, U18s are free. The gallery gardens are charming and there is an excellent cafe so if you want a reason to plan an outing to beautiful Dulwich, this could be it!

Berthe Morisot: Shaping Impressionism is at the Dulwich Picture Gallery until 10 September.

Tickets: £15 adults, U18s free. Closed Mondays.


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