Tessa, The Plight Of A Married Woman


Berthe Morisot, The Mother and Sister of the Artist (1869/1870)

This would be a sanctuary
and we would not have finished
our peregrinations through
the book. Mother read in
a black dress and my sister
was heavy with child.

She had keenly spoken out.
Married, she could not paint.
Domesticity and childbearing
dwindled her energy, she so
often wanted a breathing spot.
Her spirit’s quashed within.

Prompt: Berthe’s sister, Edma Pontillon, visited with the family in the winter of 1869–1870 when she was expecting her first child. Her sister had moved away after marriage. The sisters were art students and used to paint alongside. Edma had lamented to her sister about withdrawing from painting. That is why Berthe painted Edma’s sad countenance, I suppose. Her expression is exquisitely drawn. Berthe had asked for her brother-in-law, Eduoard Manet’s opinion on this painting and he took the liberty to add his brushstrokes to the black dress and face of the mother. Berthe was none too pleased about it.


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