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The female members of the nineteenth-century Impressionist movement are usually painted out of official art history, although Edouard Manet, for one, testified to the talents of his friends Berthe Morisot (whose Harbor at Lorient of 1869 he so admired that she gave it to him) and Eva Gonzals (the only pupil Manet ever took), and discussed matters of painting with them as readily as with male peers like Edgar Degas. Even Degas himself, notoriously misogynistic, invited Mary Cassatt to exhibit with him (she was the only American to do so); and Marie Bracquemond also exhibited at the Impressionist exhibitions of 1879, 1880 and 1886, despite the discouragement of her husband. All of these women practiced and supported Impressionism from its earliest days, when it was still a popular sport to deride it. Nonetheless, for Morisot, Gonzals, Bracquemond and Cassatt, the chances of equivalent long-term recognition were predictably slim, and while their own individual oeuvres were too strong and too omnipresent in their own time to be entirely eradicated from the annals of art, they have rarely received due attention in the hands of subsequent commentators. This stunning 400-page compendium, published to accompany the important traveling exhibition which goes to San Francisco in the summer of 2008, corrects this longstanding oversight, presenting these pioneering painters alongside each other for the first time, reproducing their oil paintings, pastels, watercolors, drawings and etchings and offering a cogent rebuttal of familiar Impressionist narratives.
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