How difficult it is to exist when one is the brother and husband of two monuments of painting! And yet, Eugène Manet achieved this miracle. Born in 1833, nearly twin to his brother Édouard, who preceded him by a year, Eugène married Berthe Morisot in 1874.
He is 41, she is 33, which is a very advanced age for a marriage at the time.
Eugene is certainly not unaware of this mixture of passion, admiration and frustration which had animated 15 years of the life of his brother and of the one who would become his wife. Secrets, things left unsaid, burnt letters, messages concealed in the portraits of Berthe by Édouard... this tumult now rested in the folds of a union which had all the appearances of a marriage of convenience.
And yet, the obvious affection shared by the couple at the beginning was transformed over time into a kind of appeased love whose fruit will be the birth of their daughter Julie in 1878. A painter himself, Eugène never stopped encouraging Berthe to paint and exhibit. He knew how to respect this space of freedom which she needed so much to flourish.
Eugène Manet married Berthe Morisot on December 22, 1874 at the Notre-Dame de Grâce church in Passy. They go to England for their honeymoon and stay at the Globe Cottage hotel in Cowes, on the Isle of Wight. In this small picture painted by Berthe, Eugène, leaning on a chair, observes passers-by on the quays, beyond a flower garden. The tones that exploit all the shades of green seem to blend into a diffused light without backlighting.
The same year, Edgar Degas also produced a portrait of Eugène as a wedding gift.
Édouard Manet will make, the same year again, his last portrait of Berthe, in mourning for her father, wedding ring on her finger and shifting gaze...
Eugène Manet will be a loving and accomplice father for little Julie. They will pose at least twice for Berthe, like this canvas, painted in Bougival, and in which Eugène reads to his five-year-old daughter.
Eugène died in April 1892, plagued by pulmonary syphilis. Berthe will follow him 3 years later.
In his art history lectures, Fabrice Roy combines the past with the present, in a poetic and playful evocation of the French 19th century...