Fig. 02

Rückseite mit Detailansicht des Händlerstempels „P:Aprin”

Brief Report

According to her daughter Julie, Morisot painted this picture from a boat moored in the middle of the harbour [Manet 1985, p. 82]. Shortly after its completion it was shown at the 7th Impressionist exhibition in 1882. The commercial cream pre-primed canvas is not in any of the standard sizes then available. It is a very fine tabby weave, such as was popular in particular among the Paris Academy painters under the name of toile fine or toile extra fine. This comparatively expensive and exclusive fabric is often found in Morisot’s œuvre, so that one can speak of a certain predilection. After a sketchy lay-in of the composition in black pencil or charcoal, the artist firmed up the chief forms with thinly applied earth colours. The subsequent execution proceeded rapidly, and the painting was completed, largely wet-in-wet, in a single session. The paints, taken mostly unmixed from the palette, were applied with brushes of various widths in such a way that virtually every brisk stroke remained clearly identifiable (fig. 11). Although she made individual areas of paint successively denser with dabs of colour or her typical zigzag brushstrokes, in many cases the cream ground or the ochre underpainting remains visible. The fact that these empty spaces were intentional and are not to be seen as evidence of unfinished work is evidenced by the final brush-strokes, which were executed when the rest of the work was already dry. The signature in the bottom right-hand corner was presumably also done with the same paint in a single flourish.

Berthe Morisot
The Harbour at Nice, 1881/82, oil on canvas, 41.4 x 55.3 cm, WRM Dep. FC 710

Berthe Morisot

born on 14 January 1841 in Bourges,
died on 2 March 1895 in Paris

Brief report with complete data as downloadable pdf-file

Further illustrations:

Fig. 02

Verso with detail of dealer’s stamp “P:Aprin”

Fig. 03

Raking light

Fig. 04

Transmitted light

Fig. 05

UV fluorescence

Fig. 06


Fig. 07

Detail, signature

Fig. 08

Cream ground, microscopic photograph (M = 1 mm)

Fig. 09

Black line of the brush underdrawing, whose extent in the total picture is marked in white, microscopic photograph
(M = 1 mm)

Fig. 10

Detail, surface of water, strokes of flat-ferrule brush (pale blue) and hair or pointed brush (ochre glaze)

Fig. 11

Detail, masts of boats, characteristic application

Fig. 12

Left-hand edge remained unvarnished, microscopic photograph
(M = 1 mm)