In April 1876, Berthe Morisot exhibited La Toilette in the 2nd exhibitions of the artists known today as the Impressionists at the Durand Ruel gallery in Paris. An admirer of her work, Degas had invited her to join them for their first exhibition writing to her mother “We find that the name and talent of Mlle Berthe Morisot are too much for us to have to do without”. Morisot will be the only artist to participate to all the exhibitions (except one for the birth of her daughter).
In her comment, Morisot praises her closest friends Monet, Renoir and Degas. These artists remained lifelong friends and will support a retrospective of her work after her death.
In the newspapers, the critical response to the Second Exhibition was mixed. Morisot got her share of praise. Still, the art critic Albert Wolff wrote on April 3rd in Le Figaro “Five or six insane people, including a woman, a group of unfortunate people suffering from the madness of ambition met (…)to exhibit their works. (…) There is also a woman in the group; her name is Berthe Morisot and is curious to watch. With her, feminine grace is maintained in the midst of the overflows of a delirious mind”. It prompted Eugène Manet, to threaten Wolff to a duel for questioning the morality of his wife, Berthe Morisot.
Caillebotte, artist, collector and patron had been introduced to the group by Monet and Renoir and he financed the exhibition almost single-handedly, using his inheritance from his father’s recent death.
Sources: Catalog of the 2d exhibition, April 1876, Bibliothèque Nationale de France
The Private Lives Of The Impressionists, by Sue Roe
Caillebotte, collectionneur et mécène des impressionnistes, Connaissance des Arts,28.02.2020
Berthe and friends, 2021, Acrylic on canvas, 40" x 30" (102x 76 cm)