Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Name, A Face, An Interesting Construction

The Red Jacket
Mlle Isabelle Lambert
| 1885

The picture shows a young girl - Isabelle Lambert - who posed for Morisot several times. Morisot was apparently interested in capturing the world of the young girl combined with or given depth by the new potential for expressing sensuality that lay in the Impressionistic approach to painting.

She also often used her daughter Julie as a model and as in this picture united a penetrating experience of the model with a sense-stimulating rendering of the close surroundings. Like most of the Impressionists, who were inspired by their close environment, Morisot found a challenge in painting among other things the immediately accessible places in her own house and in the garden in Paris.

Today I learned a name that I’ve searched for,
the name of Berthe Morisot’s model
in almost all of Morisot’s paintings
where a woman’s face can be recognized.

“Isabelle Lambert” was the model’s name.

All I know about her beyond her face
is that an art historian describes
her dying tragically and very young.

She may have been Berthe Morisot’s maid.

She may have been Julie Manet’s nanny.

She may be the girl at the garden’s edge.

Isn’t that an interesting construction,
the ‘may have been’, ‘may have been’ and ‘may be’?

All that Isabelle Lambert may have been
and what she still may be in the paintings
and in our minds when we see the paintings,
see Morisot’s depiction of her face,
from microsecond to microsecond
as alive in our thoughts as anyone.

I’m glad I learned her name, although I know
nothing changes—What was and what may be.

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