Celebrating Women: Berthe Morisot
By Sheila E
While female artists like Tracey Emin and Rachel Whiteread are as well known today as their male counterparts, there were far fewer of them in the 19th century and these women did not have the same access to training as men did.
Berthe Morisot, an important member of the group of Impressionist painters, was born in Bourges, France, on 14 January 1841. Her family were relatively well off, her father being an important local official in the Cher department. Her mother was a great niece of the Rococo artist Fragonard. The family moved to Paris in 1852, where Berthe and her sisters went to school and were given lessons in drawing and painting. This was not unusual for girls of bourgeois families, as it was considered a suitable pastime for young ladies. In 1857 Berthe and one of her sisters, Edma, were taken by their teacher to the Louvre Gallery, where they began copying paintings as part of their artistic education. However, they were not allowed into the museum unchaperoned and were not allowed to have any formal training. The sisters worked closely together until 1869, when Edma married and moved to Cherbourg. Another sister, Yves, who married a tax inspector, was painted by Edgar Degas – the canvas “Mrs Theodore Gobillard” – now exhibited in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
While copying paintings in the Louvre, the sisters met other artists, such as Monet, Manet and Corot. Berthe would marry Eugène Manet, the brother of the famous Édouard, in 1874, and bore her only child, Julie Manet, in November 1878. Julie would later sit for her mother and other artists including Renoir and her Uncle Édouard. Manet also painted Berthe, with whom he had a close relationship.
Under Corot’s influence Berthe took up painting outside (plein air), where she worked in watercolours and sometimes pastels. Her work before 1869 was mostly destroyed by her, as she didn’t consider it good enough, so it’s difficult to trace her early evolution as an artist. However, she did exhibit at the Salon de Paris in 1864 and then in six subsequent salons. These were the official exhibitions of the Academie de Beaux Arts in Paris. Then in 1874 she joined other Impressionists, who had all been rejected by the Salon, in putting on their own exhibition. The other artists included such famous names such as Renoir, Monet, Pissarro, Degas, Cézanne and Sisley.
From 1875 onwards she became more confident in using oils alongside the watercolours and pastels. Men would describe her work, which was elegant and light, as being “full of feminine charm”. She wrote in 1890 about the difficulties she had experienced in being taken seriously as an artist and wished to be treated as an equal by men “for I know I am worth as much as they”.
She painted what she knew and saw on a daily basis: family scenes, a mother next to a cradle, flowers, ladies at their toilette and children. This reflects the limited experience a woman would have had in those days. Landscapes, including gardens and boating scenes are also to be found, although her later works do include nudes and memories from her youth.
As an Impressionist, she worked with brilliant colour and sensual effects, which led critics of the movement to say that Impressionism was more suited to female artists, as they had weaker temperaments and lesser intellectual capabilities but also greater sensibility.
Today her works can be found all over the world, but mainly in the USA and Europe. The Musée Marmottan and the Musée d’Orsay in Paris have a few and a scene on the lake in the Bois de Boulogne can be seen in the National Gallery in London.
Berthe died on 2 March 1895 after contracting pneumonia, which she seemingly caught from her daughter. She was only 54 and presumably still had a lot to give to the world of art.
Lady Captain’s Report for end April/May
As we embark on our first year of affiliation with Rougemont, on 5 May, a group of nine enthusiastic BWC golfers made the journey down to Namur to participate in a competition with MUGS (a golf club of former employees of Monsanto ) celebrating their 20-year association with Rougemont. It was a very big event as there were 32 players from MUGS + BWCG, joined by 24 Rougemont players.
Rougemont is always a challenging but beautiful course with some extremely quirky holes. The weather was sunny while we played and the rain held off until everyone was back in the clubhouse. There were some good scores with Adrian and Victor (our member Nikki’s grandson) coming first, followed by Vince (the MUGS current President) and BWCG Lady Captain Carol Jones. The prize giving was followed by an excellent BBQ dinner, so, all in all, it was a really lovely day.
However, on 9 May, the weather was atrocious for our annual battle for the Trophy against Bawette Ladies. We arrived in the drizzle but the sky looked ominous. Thankfully the two Captains, Françoise from Bawette and Carol, our Lady Captain, decided that it was best to play only 9 holes and to reschedule the event to 17 October. Nine holes was more than enough as we all got soaked; the course was drenched and it was impossible to get out of the sticky rough. The 10th hole – spent in the clubhouse – was jolly. Everyone had a well-earned drink; some even ordered hot chocolate to get warm again! Finally, Carol presented Françoise with a beautiful plant to say thank you for organising the event.
The rain continued and courses were closed temporarily. Our fixture, organised by Lynette Boydell, at Falnuée on 13 May was cancelled, partly because of the rain but also because wild boar had got onto the course and ruined some of the holes!! That fixture has been rescheduled to 3 June.
On 15 May the competition at GPT sponsored by Boff went ahead in spite of wet conditions, the threat of rain and a surprisingly cold wind. Who would have believed it was mid-May? Some people still managed to play very well, especially our winner, Alison Ralph, with 18 points in Category I. Second were Lynette Boydell tied with Carol, but Lynette won on count-back. In Category II, the winner was Sue Mullen with 13 points on count-back from Janice Meanwell, who, even with the wet conditions, scored a Birdie! Sitting on the terrace afterwards was cold and draughty. A thermos of hot coffee from Lynette was much appreciated as were offerings of 2 quiches and various nuts and cranberries.
Photo Album: https://brusselswomens.club/golf-photo-album-2023/
Because of the May Bank holidays we have no fixtures at the end of May. However, it seems that the weather is improving and we can look forward to better course conditions for our June fixtures: https://brusselswomens.club/golf-report-may-2023/
The BWC Library
By Sheila Hewitt, Librarian
If you are new to the Club, you may not be aware that there is a well-stocked library on the first floor. The books are primarily fiction, though there are a few non-fiction and reference books. We have a great variety of genres, ranging from chick-lit to thrillers by well-known authors. There are even a few classics by authors such as Jane Austen.
It is run on a self-service honesty basis, so you do not need a member of the library team to check out your books. Borrowers must sign them out in the blue exercise book on the desk, giving the details required, and indicating that they have paid (cash box on the desk). Please write legibly.
Charges are very reasonable:
new books cost €2 for 2 weeks (these are on a separate shelf)
other books are €1.50 for up to 4 weeks
DVDs are €2.50 for 2 weeks and there is a separate book on the desk to sign them out.
Donated books that we already have are put out for purchase on the downstairs windowsills, as well as on the shelves in the library entrance (by the toilet) when there is sufficient space. These cost €1 and again, there is an honesty box on the windowsill, or you can use the library box upstairs.
Please do not put donations on the windowsill yourself; there is a box for them in the library.
For members who cannot manage the stairs, there is a link to a simplified version of the library catalogue on the website so that you can ask your more mobile friends to collect books on your behalf. Link: https://brusselswomens.club/library/
The library is a wonderful resource so I encourage you to make full use of it. It is a very economical way of keeping up to date with some of the latest novels.
Charity Walk No 1: Gaasbeek
We were a select few on our delightful first Charity Walk of 2023 in the sunshine through the countryside around the majestic chateau of Gaasbeek. Not only the sun but also many flowers were out to accompany us (daffodils, wood anemones, camellias aplenty), as well as having the unexpected and exhilarating experience of seeing 25.000 homing pigeons being released at once as we began our walk! Beers and coffees in the cafe on the square were an enjoyable finale to a couple of pleasant hours of healthy social activity.
Gaasbeek Castle will re-open after renovation on 1 July 2023. It will be well worth a visit and a walk around the area. The walled garden within the castle grounds grows unusual fruit and vegetables; and close by there are some of the rare grapevines grown in Belgium.
Charity Walk No. 2: Muizen
We met at Het Brughuis, the oldest inn in the area. A group of nine walkers including Stan, a gorgeous blond dog and his Mum, Marie. We all started together beside the Dijle river in glorious sunshine. Three walkers wanted to see this delightful area again, and sheered off from the rest of us to finish their short walk.
The rest of us walked along the footpath until turning right to take the path to enter the nature reserve. Continuing along this path, we reached two ponds, one on either side, and continued to Mechelsbroekstraat. We then took the path to Befferdreef “castle” although the building is more like a big mansion.
We followed the path taking us back to the Dijle river. Upon arriving at the river we headed back to Het Brughuis for some well-deserved refreshments and interesting conversation on the terrace.
Charity Walk No. 3: Céroux-Mousty
There were eight of us including Millie, the little mixed terrier, with her human, Julie, who took part in this 7.4 km walk in the lovely Brabant countryside. We met on the Place Communale of Ceroux-Mousty in full sunshine. Our walk took us mostly through the fields – luckily it had been dry, so no mud! We enjoyed being in the countryside and spent some time admiring the well-known Château Ferme de Moriensart. The fields around the Ferme are protected as agricultural land, and no building is permitted. We had the pleasure of meeting the farmer himself who still lives there.
The Chateau was originally built by the first Arnoul de Limal-Moriensart around 1220 between the Spanish owned land to the north and the French controlled land to the south. The tower was destroyed by fire in 1780 and rebuilt in the late 18th and early 19th century. The farm was enlarged in the 19th century. The current owner of the tower is Baron Gericke d’Herwijnen. It is a rare example of a private residence of this type in Brabant. And the keep is listed as a major heritage site of Wallonia.
We ended our walk on the Place Communale and took over the tables and chairs on the terrace of the restaurant Les Tilleuls which was unfortunately closed. We drank what was left of our water and Millie enjoyed a biscuit and a drink.
We hope more Members will join us on our future Walks.
Photo album: https://brusselswomens.club/charity-album-2023/
King Baudouin – known as “the sad king”
By Ann Englander
Baudouin (Dutch name Boudewijn) was King of the Belgians from 1951 until his death in 1993. He was the last Belgian king to be sovereign of the Congo. He was the elder son of Leopold III and Princess Astrid. Because Baudouin and his wife, Fabiola, had no children, the crown passed to his younger brother, Albert II, at his death.
When King Albert I was killed in a rock-climbing accident in 1934, Leopold III became king and his son, Baudouin, heir apparent. After the untimely death of Queen Astrid, Leopold married Lilian Baels. Baudouin and his siblings ended up having a close relationship with their stepmother, whom they called “mother”. He received a bilingual education from the age of seven.
As a result of the invasion of Belgium by Nazi Germany in 1940, Baudouin and his siblings were sent to France and Spain for safety. Following the Normandy landings in 1944, the Belgian royal family was deported to Germany and then to Austria from where they were liberated in May 1945 by the US Army. However, until a political solution could be found to the “Royal Question” over whether Leopold had collaborated with the Nazis, the king’s brother, Prince Charles, became regent. Due to protests and parliamentary dissent, Leopold was forced to delegate his powers to his eldest son. He abdicated in favour of Baudouin in 1951.
In 1960, Baudouin married Fabiola de Mora y Aragon, a Spanish noblewoman who was working as a nurse. Fabiola was an active Queen Consort and was closely involved in social causes especially women’s and children’s issues. The couple had no children with all the Queen’s five pregnancies ending in miscarriage.
In 1976, on the 25th anniversary of Baudouin’s accession, the King Baudouin Foundation was set up with the aim of improving the living conditions of the Belgian people.
He and his wife were devout Catholics. In 1990, when a law was submitted to liberalize Belgian’s abortion laws, he refused to give Royal Assent to the bill. Baudouin asked the government to declare him temporarily unable to reign so that he could avoid signing. All members of the Belgian government signed the bill. The very next day the government declared that he was capable of reigning again. A real Belgian compromise.
Baudouin reigned for 42 years. He died of heart failure in July 1993. It was estimated that 500,000 people, or 5%, of the population came to pay their respects. All European monarchs attended the funeral. Also present were more than 20 presidents and leaders. He was succeeded by his younger brother who became King Albert II.
Recipe (recommended by Carole Jenner)
Quick Avocado Chocolate Mousse
(thanks to Tom Kerridge)
Serves 8 in small dessert bowls. Suitable for vegans too.
2 ripe avocados (stoned and peeled +/- 190gr) – YES – avocados!!
2 ripe bananas (prepared weight +/- 210gr)
80 gr. Good quality cocoa powder
2tbsp vanilla extract or essence
1 tsp orange extract or 2 tsps. fresh orange juice
1 unwaxed orange: finely grated zest
120 ml. maple syrup
10 Medjool dates (or other sort) finely chopped
100 ml. full cream milk or cream or almond milk for non-lactose/vegans
40 gr. Good quality dark chocolate
50 gr. Pecan nuts toasted and chopped
50 gr. Macadamia or Walnuts, toasted and chopped
1tsp sea salt flakes (optional)
1. Cut the avocado flesh and bananas into pieces and put them all into a food processor. Add the cocoa powder, vanilla, orange juice, orange zest, maple syrup, dates and milk: Blend until smooth.
2. Spoon the mousse evenly into glass bowls and grate chocolate over each portion. Sprinkle with the chopped nuts and sea salt flakes (optional) to serve.
By Carol Humphrey
The Songani Hope and Wellness HIV Testing and Counselling Centre, Malawi, was one of the Club’s Charities in 2022. In April this year I joined a group visit to Malawi organised by Mbedza (the Songani Centre is one of this charity’s core projects). Having taken part in the Club’s fundraising efforts in 2022, I was delighted to visit this extraordinarily worthwhile project and see for myself the vital work carried out by the Songani Centre.
AND what a fantastic and interesting trip from the moment we landed at the chaotic airport at Blantyre and were subsequently greeted by baboons upon arrival at our accommodation on the Zomba plateau.
One day was spent visiting the Songani Centre where we were taken through an HIV counselling session by Frank, the deputy director of Mbedza Malawi. As well as testing and counselling for HIV, the Centre houses a library where students were studying. We were also introduced to a group of women who were learning how to sew and were making reusable sanitary kits for schoolgirls who could not otherwise afford sanitary protection and missed school during their periods. Dance is an important element of Malawi culture so it was a lovely surprise when we were treated to an impromptu show. Our group also visited and learned about other Mbeza projects: installation of fuel efficient stoves, tree planting, sponsorship of secondary schoolchildren. Photo album: https://brusselswomens.club/charity-album-2023/
If you would like to hear more about Songani and the other projects please come to our Tea and Talk in September when I will be talking about my adventures in Malawi, with Club Member Sue Bird, associate Director of Mbedza, with particular responsibility for the Songani Centre. https://mbedza.org/