The Cherry Picker Berthe Morisot Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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The Cherry Picker (Le Cerisier), created in 1891, is an oil-on-canvas painting by Berthe Morisot that is executed in the Impressionist style. The painting depicts two girls, one wearing a wide-brimmed hat and the other standing on the lower rungs of a ladder, collecting fruits from the branches of a tree on a bright summer's day.

Morisot, who tended to paint rural landscapes and domestic scenes, was as focused on the activities of agricultural labourers as she was on the home lives of middle-class women and these interests are melded together in this artwork. The painting, measuring 154 centimetres by 84 centimetres, is owned by the Musée Marmottan Monet in Paris.

Morisot, having married Eugène Manet in 1874, made her family the subject of this painting. Julie Manet, Morisot’s only daughter, is the female figure standing on the ladder and reaching her arm above her head to pick the cherries while the other girl in the painting is the French painter’s niece. Jeannie Gobillard, the daughter of Théodore Gobillard and Yves Morisot, was fourteen at the time of the painting’s creation while the Julie Manet was around the age of twelve or thirteen. Both girls, related to famous artists, were the subject of other paintings during their lifetimes and Julie Manet would write a book about the painters that she grew up around.

Julie Manet, leaning back against the ladder as she faces the fruit tree, can be seen in profile view and has her blonde hair tied back in a ponytail. A smudge of rouge, appearing on her visible cheek, gives the impression that she is blushing or that a shadow has cast upon her face while the flesh tones of the arm with which she grabs the tree melds into the green tones of the foliage. The cherry picker wears ballet pumps and a pale, ankle-length dress that catches hues of blue as well as violet from the sunlight that shines through the canopy. The girl in the hat, her back turned to the viewer, is clothed in a white dress.

A possible source of inspiration for Le Cerisier may have been Pierre-Auguste Renoir, an associate of Berthe Morisot and fellow Impressionist painter, who had moved towards a more precise and detailed style of painting during the 1880s. Morisot, having received more than her fair share of the criticism that had been levelled at Impressionist painters while being the additional subject of sexist opinion pieces from art critics, may have placed more emphasis on exactness and accuracy in this painting than she had in previous artworks in order to prove her detractors wrong.