History And Context
Painted late in Berthe Morisot’s career, Two Girls typifies her many images of young women at home involved in daily routines. Posing in Morisot’s rue Weber apartment in Paris, Marthe, a model, prepares to bathe her feet while Jeanne-Marie, another model, daydreams.
Two Girls is executed in pastel colors and with feathery brushstrokes typical of the impressionist technique that Morisot maintained throughout her life. Yet this work reflects her late style. The figures are not blended into the background, as was characteristic of her early work, but have volume and are outlined with broad brushstrokes that set them apart from their surroundings. This practice, and her increasing use of preparatory sketches for her paintings, was adopted from Auguste Renoir, a close friend during the last ten years of her life. At the time that Two Girls was created, both artists were ardent admirers of Boucher and Rubens and chose to concentrate on the depiction of the figure in intimate compositions that recalled baroque interiors. For Morisot, posing models in her apartment was convenient and ideally suited to this purpose.