The Cage 1885

Berthe Morisot, The Cage, 1885; Gift of Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay

Painted in 1885, The Cage typifies Berthe Morisot’s mature style, pushing the boundaries of Impressionism.

About 1880, Morisot, Edouard Manet, and Eva Gonzalès began experimenting with painting on unprimed canvas. The texture of the heavy woven fabric affected Morisot’s paint application, which became increasingly loose and sketchy.

Using a limited palette dominated by brown, white, and green, the artist constructed a still life comprising a birdcage and a bowl of flowers set against an ambiguous background of choppily executed strokes of paint. A study of juxtaposed forms and solids against voids, The Cage demonstrates Morisot’s ability to give a painting the same unstudied appearance as a watercolor.