The representation of maidservants in the work of Berthe Morisot
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This thesis studies the construction of the maidservant image in the work of the Impressionist artist Berthe Morisot. I situate her images within the discursive historical contexts in which they were created. In the first section, I present examples of servant images produced by Morisot's contemporaries. The second section gives an account of the French government's changes to the Parisian urban landscape, focusing on the increasing emphasis on privacy in the domestic sphere. The last sections discuss Morisot's negotiation of motherhood ideals and how they came about due to a very specific demand to represent identities, instead of generic subjects, in everyday-life painting. I show that Morisot's representations of servants served to reconcile her own position as woman and artist within a particular bourgeois conception of women's roles and social responsibilities. Hence, the maidservant was not made visible in her own right but as a confirmation of her mistress' self.