Manet had imparted the spirit of modernism to the face of Berthe Morisot when she posed, with her mother's permission, for The Balcony. He was to paint her often: in a black hat, almost smiling,
fascinating under her veil of mourning; or mysterious, her face hidden behind a fan; and here, seated on a divan, at ease, with her arms flung out.
Manet, however, never had the ascendancy over this distant relative of Fragonard that he had during the same period over Eva Gonzales, who was to become his pupil. Berthe Morisot stood up for herself and argued hotly. "I agree with you," wrote Fantin-Latour to Manet on August 26, 1878, "the Morisot girls are charming. It is a pity they are not men. However, as women, they could further the cause of art by each marrying an academician and stirring up trouble in the camp of those old fogeys." Berthe was to do better than that. She was to become one of the most sensitive and important painters of the century, leaving far behind the writer of those jesting lines, who was to sink into a morass of symbolic musical illustration.