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The Psyche Mirror was completed by Berthe Morisot in 1876. It now resides within the permanent collection of the Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum in Madrid, Spain.
This memorable artwork is also sometimes known as The Cheval-Glass or La Psyché. Whilst being a fairly simple composition, it perfectly captures the essence of Morisot as an artist, focusing as it does on the daily lives of women, as well as working within an indoor setting which was common for her. She would paint portraits of friends and family, also sometimes including mothers alongside their young children. She helped in reminding the world of the role played in society by women, and the importance of their contribution which was sometimes forgotten at that time. The lady here is admiring her figure within a delightful white dress, and perhaps preparing for the day. Light comes in from the right hand side to create a positive mood across the work, whilst a small couch by the window places us within perhaps a large bedroom in which this lady finds some privacy whilst choosing her outfit.
The Psyche Mirror was entered into an Impressionist exhibition in 1877, underlining how the artist was clearly happy with the final look. She is known to have amended her portraits again and again, sometimes asking her models to return for several sittings and so it took a lot for her to commit to exhibiting any artwork. The artist here may have been commenting on the pressures on women to look their best within 19th century society, but equally she may have just been continuing her focus on the everyday lives of middle class ladies. Psyche is the name used for a certain type of French mirror that could be tilted in the manner shown in this painting, and often the painting uses that in its title. For related titles, see also Young Woman Powdering her Face, The Mother and Sister of the Artist and Woman at her Toilette.
The item is normally out on display at the Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum, but check ahead of any visit just to make sure if you are keen to view this specific painting. In truth, there is plenty else to see and enjoy within this highly respected art gallery which remains one of the biggest cultural attractions to be found within the city of Madrid. Portrait of Giovanna Tornabuoni by Domenico Ghirlandaio, View of Vessenots, Auvers by Vincent van Gogh and The Rest on the Flight into Egypt by Giambattista Pittoni are just a few of the incredible artworks to be found here, and with other venues available in the city, a long weekend of art in Madrid is a great option to take. Many of these venues would take at least a day just on their own, and there are also some smaller galleries dotted around the city for specialist tastes.