Saturday, November 27, 2021

Memories of Maman: Julie Manet's memories of her mother, Berthe Morisot (January 14, 1841-March 2, 1895)

I am going to highlight some of my favorite of Julie Manet's experiences between she and her mother, painter Berthe Morisot, in Julie's own words from her diary entries...

park at fontainebleau and forest at fontainebleau by Berthe Morisot, 1893

Wednesday, 30 August 1893

We went for a lovely outing. First we went to Queen Amelie's belvedere, then to the calvary at the Roche Eponge from where one has a lovely view of Fontainebleau. We came back by the Fouteau woods where there are magnificent trees, and saw an oak and a beech growing from the same roots and other oddities like that. 

Thursday, 31 August 1893

We painted in the forest all morning.  In the afternoon, Monsieur Mallarme came to invite Maman to go boating and she accepted the invitation although there was practically no wind. Monsieur Mallarme's boat is very shiny and the hull is painted light green; the sail is a pretty shape with a little flag on the mast with his initials 'S.M.'

Saturday, 2 September 1893

This morning we finished our studies in the forest and in the afternoon went to the Chateau de Fontainebleau with Monsieur and Mademoiselle Mallarme in the carriage.

On the Beach at Portrieux and On the Cliff at Portrieux By Berthe Morisot, 1894

Thursday, 9 August 1894

We caught an omnibus to Portrieux while our driver was very rude and we could hardly understand what he was saying because he stuttered so much.  We reached Potrieux at lunchtime. We needed to wash and have lunch at the seafront hotel, after which some women came to take us to visit houses to let. We spent some time on the beach observing the waves on the sand. At the end of the day, we decided on a house that we had seen for 400 francs:  it is quite large, has a large garden, but no view because it is right on the beach. 

Sunday, 12 August 1894

Today is the feast day of Portrieux. There are regattas but the sea is very grey. Nevertheless, we did some watercolors from the terrace of our outhouse.

Wednesday, 15 August 1894

On our walk, we meet women dressed in their Sunday best especially today for the Feast of the Assumption. They all wear white bonnets with black shawls and little black silk aprons. I must say it is not a very jolly costume. 

Saturday, 18 August 1894

We spent the afternoon painting in the garden, which reminds me of Mezy and Le Mesnil.

Julie Manet in a hat, age 16, 1894:  Photograph: Musee Marmottan Monet

Wednesday, 14 November 1894
 It's my sixteenth birthday today. The sunrise was quite extraordinary-it was magical, pink, pink, pink everywhere like a firework display, everything looked as though it was enveloped in tulle- truly marvellous! We had supper at Madame Renault's before the 'Francais.' First, we saw Moliere's Mariage Force; this parody has some quite amusing moments; the 'calm' philosopher is entertaining; while the other one is terribly vulgar.  La joie fait peur was well acted by Got and I really enjoyed Ilne faut jurer de rien by Alfred de Musset:  it was elegant and simple. Reichenberg was amazingly young looking and light on her feet, especially when she had to dance. The male lead could have acted much more convincingly which would have made the whole performance totally charming. It was Maman's idea to go to the 'Francais' for my birthday. 

My dearest little Julie, I love you as I die; I will love you when I’m dead; I beg of you, do not cry; this parting was inevitable. I would have liked to be with you until you married. . . . Work hard and be good as you have always been; you have never caused me one sorrow in your little life. . . . 

I love you more than I can tell you. Jeannie, take care of Julie. 

Julie Manet with Berthe Morisot painted by Auguste Renoir, 1894

Friday, March 1, 1895

Maman has been very ill since I wrote anything . . . she is terribly weak, can scarcely speak, takes only a little milk. . . . She is suffering a great deal with her throat, which prevents her from swallowing. . . . It's hard not to cry. And if only I could do something useful—I don't know how to nurse and everyone wants me to go to sleep at night. How bleak this all is. Dear God, make Maman better.

I have lost Maman. She died at half past ten on Saturday 2nd March. I cannot describe the enormity of my grief. . . . In three years my parents have left me and now I am an orphan. . . . On Saturday morning she was still laughing . . . how pretty she was then; she was her usual self. . . . At 3 o’clock I spoke to Maman for the last time . . . Oh! If only it were just a nightmare. But no, alas it’s reality. . . . she left a letter for me, a letter that is so precious; and she wrote to Jeannie, “Take care of Julie.” Her last word was “Julie.”






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