And feelings. So many feelings.
Also such a greatly balanced episode! The last two have been totally AWESOME.
Manet gave this small painting to Berthe Morisot. It contains a letter, the fan she held in his famous painting, “The Balcony”, and a bunch of violets.
There has always been speculation about the relationship between Manet and Morisot. Manet, of course, was married to Suzanne Leenhoff, his former piano tutor. The circumstances of that marriage are also clouded. It is now believed that she was actually the mistress of Manet’s father, and when she became pregnant, Manet married her to spare the family embarrassment. Leenhoff’s son was at times passed off as her brother (ironic, when he may have, in fact, been Manet’s half-brother). He always referred to Manet as “godfather” and not “father”. Manet never admitted paternity.
Morisot ended up marrying Manet’s brother.
There is no mistaking for whom the painting of violets was intended, as both Morisot’s and Manet’s names appear on the letter in the painting. Ah, but what about the violets?
Violet’s are a flower with which Morisot was identified. In 1818 Madam Charlotte de la Tour wrote Le Langage des Fleurs, the language of flowers. In it, a meaning was assigned to every flower. Each bouquet carried a very specific message. They could indicate everything from the time of a secret assignation to the intricacies of one’s emotions.
A couple of years ago I made a trip to Tourette, France, which is known for violets the way Grasse is known for lavender. In the tourist office in one of their brochures I read that the meaning of violets in Le Langage des Fleurs is “a secret love”.