This is a magnificent book - Morisot was a genius. The Irish novelist George Moore said of her: "Only one woman created a style, and that woman is Madame Morisot. Her pictures are the only pictures painted by a woman that could not be destroyed without creating a blank, a hiatus in the history of art.” It is impossible to disagree.
This book contains two essays, neither of which interested me. But the pictures, and the selection, are magnificent - beautifully reproduced. In addition, there are fascinating photographs, an illustrated biography, passages from her correspondence, including her final letter to Julie Manet.
Near the end, the authors have reproduced an envelop on which Mallarmé, who was very close to Morisot, wrote the following instructions.
Apporte ce livre, quand naît//
Sur le Bois l'Aurore amarante,//
Chez Madame Eugène Manet//
Rue au loin Villejust, quarante
Julie Manet was born in 1978, when Morisot was 38. Eugène died in 1892, and Morisot in 1895. Julie, who is the subject of many of these pictures, was then raised by Mallarmé (who himself died in 1898). In fact, many of these pictures show themselves to be a mediation on the transitoriness of human life, the passing of youth, and of death.