Berthe Morisot was the only female painter who took part in the first Impressionist exhibition in Nadar’s studio, in 1874. In the same year she married Eugène Manet (1833-1892), Edouard Manet’s brother, who had painted her portrait several times.
During her first exhibition in Nadar’s studio, the young woman exhibited pastel and watercolour works and four paintings which included The Cradle, painted in 1872 (Paris, Musée d’Orsay), which depicts her sister Edma watching her sleeping daughter. After these noteworthy beginnings, Berthe continued to exhibit regularly with the group and built strong friendships with painters and writers with similar artistic interests. Monet and the poet Mallarmé were very close friends of her and her family. Renoir was also a loyal companion, particularly at the end of Berthe Morisot’s life. They sometimes painted together and exchanged themes and ideas.
The painting in the Petit Palais shows the free and vigorous touch and freshness of tone which are characteristic of Impressionist works. Its harmonious pink and green tones are reminiscent of those of Renoir’s bathers. As a work produced in the painter’s later years, it can be viewed as a nostalgic hymn to youth. After the death of Eugène Manet, Berthe increasingly abandoned open-air painting in order to work on figure painting using models, in the studio set up in her new apartment, on Rue Weber, near Bois de Boulogne. Her daughter Julie, who donated Young girl in a low-cut dress to the Petit Palais, often posed for her. Amongst the models who came to the studio were two sisters, Jeanne-Marie, recognisable in other paintings by her red hair, and Marthe, depicted here with a bunch of flowers in her brownhair.