Urgent Museum Notice

The Cage

Close up of The Cage

Rendered in loose, impressionistic brushstrokes in muted pastel tones, the still life painting depicts a brass birdcage with two small birds cuddled next to each other on a perch. The cage sits adjacent to and partially obscures a bowl of lush red, yellow, and white flowers.

Berthe Morisot, The Cage, 1885; Oil on canvas, 19 7/8 x 15 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay; Photo by Lee Stalsworth

The Cage
Berthe Morisot

Painted in 1885, The Cage typifies Berthe Morisot’s mature style, pushing the boundaries of Impressionism.

About 1880, Morisot, Edouard Manet, and Eva Gonzalès began experimenting with painting on unprimed canvas. The texture of the heavy woven fabric affected Morisot’s paint application, which became increasingly loose and sketchy.

Using a limited palette dominated by brown, white, and green, the artist constructed a still life comprising a birdcage and a bowl of flowers set against an ambiguous background of choppily executed strokes of paint. A study of juxtaposed forms and solids against voids, The Cage demonstrates Morisot’s ability to give a painting the same unstudied appearance as a watercolor.

Artwork Details

  • Artist

    Berthe Morisot
  • Title

    The Cage
  • Date

    1885
  • Medium

    Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions

    19 7/8 x 15 in.
  • Donor Credit

    Gift of Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay
  • Photo Credit

    Lee Stalsworth
  • On Display

    Yes