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This delightful painting by Berthe Morisot features a young girl playing piano in the corner of a room. She is named in the title as Lucie Leon.
The girl is dressed in a stunning blue dress which suggests perhaps a middle class background. Her hair is neatly styled, with a bow at the top. She has a small bracelet around her left arm, which sits a little higher than normal because of her naturally slim arms. Her hands are placed on the keys of the piano, suggesting that she is playing, or about to play for the artist. The tone of blue is then continued by Morisot from the dress, right across the rest of the painting, covering the background wall at the back, and even with some use of it over the black keys of the piano. The brown wooden piano looks elegant and is then decorated with a series of flower petals, bringing white and pink colours into the painting. We also find detail on the back wall, with a framed painting sitting just over Lucie Leon's right shoulder.
Lucie Leon at the Piano is dated at 1892, at which point the artist would have been in her early fifties and sadly she would pass away just a few years later. Her oeuvre is filled with paintings of women and children, gifting the art world an alternative view of the world from a female perspective. The painting listed here is 80cm by 65cm which is fairly standard for this style of art and it is believed today to reside within a private collection, which explains why it is not quite as well known or as researched as some of the artist's other paintings. She would produce another version of this painting in the same year, and probably at the same time. The composition is altered slightly for that piece, with one hand on the piano, and with the flowers cropped out. That alternative piece can be found in the Seattle Art Museum in the US.
Details around the life of Lucie Léon have been uncovered in the years that have passed since these paintings were completed. We do know that she had become a high profile pianist as early as 1898, despite the difficulties that women faced in the music industry at that time. In a way, she was a younger version of the artist, contributing to a male-dominant world and relying on her own hard work and natural ability to succeed. Morisot would feature hobbies such as music within her work many times, but in this case the young girl was not simply learning a skill for her own education and cultural enjoyment, but actually to create a career some years later. Some of Morisot's other memorable artworks included the likes of The Cradle, Woman at her Toilette and Eugène Manet on the Isle of Wight.