Lot 33
  • 33

Berthe Morisot

1,800,000 - 2,500,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Paule Gobillard en robe de bal
  • Signed Berthe Morisot (lower right)
  • Oil on canvas
  • 28 3/4 by 23 5/8 in.
  • 73 by 60 cm


Tadamasa Hayashi, Paris  (acquired from the artist)

Jacques Doucet, Paris (acquired by 1906)

Thence by descent to the present owner


Paris, Galerie Georges Petit, Exposition Internationale de Peinture et de Sculpture, 1887, no. 94

Paris, Galerie Durand-Ruel, Berthe Morisot (Madame Eugène Manet), Exposition de son oeuvre, 1896, no. 50 (titled Figure de femme and as dating from 1888)

Paris, Galerie Durand-Ruel, Berthe Morisot, 1902, no. 13

Paris, Salon d'Automne, Berthe Morisot, 1907, no. 123 (titled Robe de bal)

Paris, Galerie Marcel Bernheim, Réunion d'oeuvre par Berthe Morisot, 1922, no. 33

Paris, Bernheim-Jeune, Exposition d'Oeuvres de Berthe Morisot, 1929, no. 14

Paris, Bernheim-Jeune, Berthe Morisot, 1941, no. 75, (titled Jeune fille en robe de bal)



Monique Angoulvent, Berthe Morisot, Paris, 1933, no. 292

Marie-Louis Bataille & Georges Wildenstein, Berthe Morisot, Catalogue des peintures, pastels et aquarelles, Paris, 1961, no. 210, fig. 220, illustrated

Alain Clairet, Delphone Montalant & Yves Rouart, Berthe Morisot, 1841-1895, Catalogue raisonné de l’oeuvre peint, Paris, 1997, no. 214

Catalogue Note

Morisot's paintings of women are some of the most radical examples of avant-garde portraiture to be produced among the Impressionist circle.  Paule Gobillard en robe de bal depicts the artist's twenty-year-old niece, posed in the finery of young debutant.  While Morisot pays close attention to the details of her wardrobe, from the floral belt to bronzed pin fastening the knot in her hair, it is her mode of capturing the vivacity of her young model that set her apart from her impressionist colleagues.  Though she could not be more poised with her hands folded in her lap, Paule's daring glance, reminiscent of Michelangelo's heroic Delphic Sybil, belies the force of will contained within that cinched bodice.  What more, her shifting pose and the frenzied background against which she is set hints at the spiritness of this young model and exemplifies the aesthetic for which Morisot is best-known.  In her well-known essay about Morisot's painting, Linda Nochlin turns to the oft-quoted passage by Marx to describe Morisot's radically modern method of deconstructing an otherwise traditional subject: "All fixed, fast frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify:  All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned" (Karl Marx, quoted in L. Nochlin, "Morisot's Wet Nurse, The Construction of Work and Leisure in Impressionist Painting," reprinted in Women Impressionists(exhibition catalogue), Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt & Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, 2008, p. 54).

The sitter depicted here is Morisot's niece Paule Gobillard (1867-1946), who was a frequent model for many of the Impressionist painters and would later become an artist herself.  Gobillard's mother was the sister of the artist, and her likeness appears in as many as ten of Morisot's paintings.  She would later feature in photographs taken by Edgar Degas and in paintings by Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Odilon Redon, but it was her aunt Berthe who provided some of the most biographically-infused depictions of her, including the present work and another canvas of Paule at her easel.  In an entry dated March 4, 1896, Paule's cousin Julie Manet describes this painting in her diary: "The portrait of Paule, in a pink ball-gown against a grey background, sitting on a grey sofa – her almost blonde hair caught up with a huge Japanese comb. The face is very pretty, a good likeness, quite pale, and lit in a rather unusual way with a green light; the eyes are as charming as Paule’s are in real life. This portrait was exchanged for some Japanese prints a few years ago and now Hayashi, the Japanese collector, has agreed to give it back in return for Derrière la jalousie and the drawing of Marthe en chemise" (J. Manet, ‪Growing Up With The Impressionists: ‪The Diary of Julie Manet, London & New York, 1987, p. 95).

The present composition is one of the paintings that Morisot gave to the Japanese dealer Tadamasa Hayshi (1854-1906) in exchange for a group of Japanese prints.  By 1906, the picture entered the collection of Jacques Doucet (1853-1929), the French fashion designer whose luxurious evening gowns made of gossamer pastel-toned fabrics were wildly popular in the early 20th century.  Along with being one of the most venerated taste-makers of his day, Doucet assembled one of the foremost collections of Impressionist and early modern art, which included Picasso's Les Desmoiselles d'Avignon.  Morisot's Paule Gobillard en robe de bal, which held obvious appeal for Doucet, remained in Doucet's collection until his death and was kept in the private collection of his heirs until today.